Cross country team identifies discipline as catchphrase

by Sports Editor Mike Ezekiel

Almost any coach would say academics are just as important as athletic performance. For UNA’s cross-country team, the two are in one accord.

Last season, the men’s and women’s teams were each named the All-Academic Teams for 2014 by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

The women’s team has a cumulative GPA of 3.47, while the men combined for an average of 3.19. Those numbers were no surprise to UNA cross-country coach Scott Trimble.

“If they can go out and put in as many miles as they do, going to class is easy,” Trimble said. “They are a special bunch of young people that do what they are supposed to do.”

The men’s cross-country team will return all eight of their lettermen from last season, while the women return nine after losing six seniors to graduation.

“We have really good runners on both the men’s side and women’s side,” Trimble said. “With what we have coming back and what we have coming in new, the sky is the limit.”

Trimble said the discipline it takes to run carries over into every aspect of life.

“You’ll look at these guys and these ladies in 10 years and they will be successful,” Trimble said. “They find the inner-discipline to go out and put miles in when nobody else will. They have the inner-drive to be successful.”

Junior Adam Benefield said discipline has become the team’s motto heading into the 2015 season.

“Motivation only lasts for a couple of days, but discipline gets you out the door everyday,” Benefield said. “Discipline gets you to run twice a day, gets you to class and gets you to study.”

Benefield said the offseason is not time away from running, as the team continues to run even when they are not competing.

“There really is no offseason for us,” Benefield said. “We put in a huge base of miles that lasts throughout the summer. Then we run at faster intervals in late August to get at our peak fitness level for the championship races.”

Sophomore Justin “The Rookie” Watson said discipline is an everyday lifestyle for the cross-country runners.

“When you’re disciplined, it’s an every single day thing,” Watson said. “You literally live it and it controls everything about you.”

Watson said while having his teammates run with him helps him stay motivated, he and his teammates also find the discipline it takes to run alone.

Sophomore Braxton Linder said running helps him achieve his ultimate goals in the classroom.

“Academics are why we are here (in college),” Linder said. “We are here to get the grades and running really helps us.”