Sports are Back! Furman Cross Country Gears Up For Fall Competition
On Oct. 5, Furman and the Southern Conference announced that the Southern Conference Cross Country Championship will be held this fall on Nov. 21 in Macon, GA. As with many other sports, the Southern Conference Championships had previously been moved to the spring of 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns. However, this new announcement means Furman’s seven-time defending champions will get to compete in the fall as they were originally intended to.
The decision to move the championship to the fall leaves more room in the spring for a number of other sports. It also reduces the overlap between indoor running championships and the Southern Conference Championship.
Furman’s cross-country coach, Robert Gary, feels that the choice was made in part because students were allowed to come back to campus this fall. He also spoke about the relief of avoiding training overlaps with runners preparing for the indoor track championships.
Coach Gary said the team has been training hard before this decision was made, and he feels they are ready for optimal performance. Training regiments include completing time trials and racing in scrimmage teams called the Purples & Whites (referencing the opposite jersey colors). He joked that racing as purples and whites has “gone as far as it can go” and is excited for the team to train with more intention, as they now have an actual competition to work toward.
Coach Gary believes strongly in his program and his runners. When asked about what has made this program so successful over the years, he simply answered, “the people.” He said that the runners are the “biggest holders of team culture,” and how the team is at a top tier position because of its amazing recruiting class. Gary mentioned that the team has received generous support from the University and the athletic director, which has helped the program succeed over the years.
The 2020 championship team will consist of seven male and three female runners who are eager to reclaim their title and become eight-time champions this fall. Coach Gary expressed how proud he is of the runners and the program, as they have used the time this fall to train hard and get ahead academically, and they are now ready to compete. Nothing can substitute for a season, but the team has made the most of this break in competition to prepare for the opportunity to defend their title.