Even if fifth-year senior Kirsten Lake’s Bulldog days are dwindling, she’s expecting eight talented freshmen to continue her Drake cross country legacy.
Lake won last Friday’s Bulldog Classic to open Drake’s cross country season. With four regular season meets remaining, Lake is already eyeing the Missouri Valley Conference title.
“I’m kind of excited because we have some strong freshman girls that came in, so I think we can do pretty well if we just keep up our training,” Lake said. “Hopefully, we place better at conference this year, and I think that we can really easily.”
Before the State Farm MVC Championship opens on Oct. 27, though, working together is Drake’s top priority.
“We need to get used to working together in practices so we do that during the races, and I think we’ll be really good if we can figure out how to do that,” Lake said.
Drake travels to Minneapolis, Minn., for the Minnesota OZ Memorial on Friday. For Lake and Drake, every mile welcomes team bonding, whether by foot, or by bus.
“One of the things I like about being on the cross country team is everybody is close because, you know, we practice every day even on the weekends,” Lake said. “We get up early on the weekends to go do our long runs, so we spend a lot of time together and travel, so everybody gets really close.”
Togetherness also motivates the Drake men’s cross country team. Fifth-year senior Charlie Lapham is optimistic about Drake’s chances this season, thanks to the team’s shared vision.
“I think even more than any time I’ve been here at Drake, we know we have a good team, and we know that we have a really strong top couple runners,” Lapham said. “I think the goals are pretty much the same for everyone on our team. We all have similar goals, and they’re all team goals, and that’s really our motto is to just kind of keep the team first and try to do everything as a group.”
Though team goals are forefront for Lapham, he’s also looking to improve individually.
“I came back, obviously, because I felt like I still had room to improve,” Lapham said. “I had unfinished business at Drake. We want to try to win conference, and we have a good chance to do it.”
Lapham said the Bulldogs’ “similar” goals and personalities improve their MVC chances.
“We’re all really good friends,” Lapham said. “We’re all very similar, and we’re all working towards the same thing, so it’s a fun group of people to be around.”