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Picayune cross country overcomes weather on race day

Picayune’s cross country athletes were in for a muggy race this past Saturday when the squad took part in the Country Day Cajun Classic in New Orleans.

While the race wasn’t the most organized of affairs, Head Coach Chris Wise said there were still some positives for the athletes to take from the event.

“In terms of effort I was pleased with that, and it was very hot. It was one of those days you could feel it sucking the life out of you,” Wise said.

The Maroon Tide athletes are in a unique position.

The team has no home course, meaning each competition they participate in requires the squad to travel.

While home field advantage doesn’t really apply in cross country, it definitely helps to know the track and be familiar with its intricacies.

Each Saturday the athletes get up early and travel to the location of that day’s race.

It’s an extenuating factor, which in Wise’s opinion can affect the athletes’ performances.

“I think it does affect them, having to crawl out of bed before daylight every Saturday and hit the road. Having to get to a new site is challenging for us,” Wise said.

The season is winding down for the athletes, with only a couple of events remaining before the regional race.

All year Wise has been preparing his athletes with a variety of workouts, so the runners would be peaking heading into the important races.

Wise said he likes what he’s seeing from the team, and the athletes should be ready to go when the big time races roll around.

“I think we are peaking properly. There is improvement as a whole, and gains from each individual. I’m pleased where it’s going, and what we’re doing,” Wise said.

Certain athletes are still dealing with some nagging injuries, but with Raoul Ramos’ return from injury and Mary Thompson’s rapid improvement Wise thinks his athletes are where they need to be.

The next race for Wise’s athletes will be Oct. 12 at the Pineywoods Trail Run at the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune.

Then the team will head to the Columbia Invitational on Oct. 15 to wrap up the regular season.

Earlier in the season the athletes would have had a week to recover in between races. However, with regionals approaching, Wise is having his athletes compete in races every couple of days.

Not only does this help with the runners’ stamina, but it also allows them to get more comfortable in a race setting before dealing with the pressure of a regional race. “I’m expecting an even higher level of performance. You can do all the running you want to, but it’s not like racing. The more you race the better you get,” Wise said.