Hats off to Linfield cross country stars Shawn Fisher and Marci Klimek, who last week at the West Region Championships each realized their stated goals of qualifying for this Saturday’s NCAA Division III national championship meet in Hanover, Ind. Both juniors are enjoying remarkable individual seasons.
Fisher shared his dream of competing in the NCAA championship race with me during an highlights segment we taped in October. Klimek, who competed at last year’s NCAA meet, revealed in a recent Q&A interview her focus of racing against the highest level of Division III competition.
What does it take to reach a national championship game, meet or match? From my experience, everything must work in your favor. In cross country, you start with God-given talent. Then you must apply your talent and lay the foundation for success with prerequisite off-season training. There’s a certain mental stamina needed to get through a grueling season of daily training and competitions. Cross country athletes log up to 60 miles a week in training runs, then go out and race all out on Saturdays. That’s about 58 more miles than I run a week. Athletes must avoid over training or competing so hard that they wear out their bodies. And they must develop race savvy and experience in order to guide their bodies to speed up and slow down at the proper points in the race.
Klimek finished 68th at last season’s national championships, the highest finish at nationals ever by a Linfield woman in NCAA competition. Fisher is peaking at the right time and could realistically become the highest male competitor from Linfield in an NCAA championship meet.
Linfield’s championship entourage, which includes head coach Dr. Garry Killgore and assistant Greg Mitchell, departs early Thursday morning for Indiana.
I’m sure both student-athletes have set lofty goals for themselves. Now, it’s just a matter of going out and realizing those goals.