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WAC championship comes to Tech

October 25, 2012

Senior Matt Wolfe looks to impress Bulldog fans at the 2012 WAC Championship. - Photo by Media Relations

 

JOHN TABOR
Sports Reporter

 

After finishing second (men) and eighth (women) at the Demon Invitational in Natchitoches, the Louisiana Tech cross country teams return home to host the Western Athletic Conference championships Saturday at Lincoln Parish Park.

 

Start times for the meet are 9 a.m. for the women and 10 a.m. for the men.

 

Tech is hosting the WAC Championships for the first time since 2003 and hope to have a strong showing in their final year of membership in the WAC.

 

Matt Wolfe, a senior from Bossier City, looks to lead the Bulldogs while Mary Kate Hays, a sophomore from Baton Rouge, will anchor the Lady Techsters.

 

Both are coming off strong finishes in Natchitoches with Wolfe finishing third (15:17.2), while Hays finished with a time of 20:40.5, good for 17th place overall.

 

Head coach Gary Stanley spoke about the depth and talent of the conference across the board.

 

“I think invariably Utah State usually gets someone that does really well in conference and at regionals,” he said. “Texas Arlington also has a freshman from New Zealand that’s running really well.”

 

Due to the wide geographical proximity, Tech rarely faces WAC competition during their non-conference slate.

 

“We haven’t seen Texas-San Antonio this year and I don’t know exactly what they’ve got,” Stanley said. “Obviously Idaho, San Jose State––we haven’t seen them as well. That’s the thing about being in the WAC, but this will change once we enter Conference USA.”

 

As Tech makes the transition to C-USA, time previously spent for travel can go towards other items such as training or scholastics.

Sophomore Mary Kate Hays looks to impress Bulldog fans at the 2012 WAC Championship. - Photo by Media Relations

 

Stanley added, “Once Tech joins C-USA, there’s much more likelihood that we would see Rice or Tulsa in our regional non-conference meets than say Idaho or San Jose State.”

 

Another variable with cross-country are the physical elements, which go with each individual meet.

 

“In cross country, the courses and distances change so it’s pretty hard to get an accurate reading on what the potential results will be,” Stanley said.

 

Stanley expressed a variety of emotions about this being Tech’s final year of competition in the WAC.

 

“As a coach, you always have a desire for family members and friends to have an opportunity to come see the athletes compete,” he said. “Your fan base tends to identify more with regional schools.”

 

Stanley also spoke about the friendships and professional relationships he’s established over the past 12 years in the WAC.

 

“We’ve had a lot of success over the years in the WAC and I’ve got several friends such as the staff at Utah State that I’ve become close to over the years,” he said. “I’ll be sad not to see them again because literally, you won’t see them in competition again.”

 

The Bulldogs and Lady Techsters hope to finish out the cross-country season with a solid finish at Lincoln Parish Park Saturday.

 

“We don’t have as strong of a long distance program as in years past, we’re more geared towards the 800-meter and the 1500M races,” Stanley said. “However, I expect us to definitely excel from January to June during the indoor and outdoor track seasons.”

 

Email comments to jmt028@latech.edu.

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