Coach: Cross country ready to run in DI

By Olivia A. Gutierrez


After nine years of coaching at UIW, Dr. Derek Riedel’s cross-country program will run its first year in Division I.

With his women’s team coming in third last year in the Lone Star Conference and sixth in the South Central Conference, and his established men’s team remaining the same, Riedel said he feels confident about the forthcoming season’s success.

At 6:30 in the morning, the men and women’s cross-country team commence their strenuous training comprised of long runs, hill workouts, and tempo runs. On a typical week, the men’s team runs 70-75 miles, while the women’s team runs 45-50 miles.

With this amount of high mileage, these athletes must take preventative measures to avoid crippling injuries such as stress fractures, compartment syndrome, tendinitis, and shin splints.  Thus, Riedel has begun taking extra precaution to ensure the health of his athletes. Through yoga and foam rolling, strength and abdominal training, and grass and barefoot running, Riedel plans to preserve the health of his athletes for their upcoming competition and hopes these preventatives will be sufficient to avoid injuries that plague many high-mileage and high-intensity programs

For the teams’ first meet Aug. 31, Riedel said he plans on both teams winning collectively and individually. At their time trial, the team ran extremely well, Riedel said. His key runners –Alejandro Hernandez, Marcos Mora, Rainy Castaneda and Irma Garza — appeared especially strong.

Being in the tough Lone Star Conference equipped his athletes for the move up to DI, Riedel said.

“I have faith that we can do well right away in the Southland Conference,” he said.

Riedel said he is especially confident about his women’s team excelling, not only because his key women’s runners, Irma Garza and Emma Jewell, were national qualifiers, but also because the team seems especially motivated and excited about the new challenge of competing in DI.

As a DI coach, Riedel, who is now full time, said he has no trepidations about the forthcoming season because he feels his team has equipped themselves with good training and tough mentalities.

His future plans for the team consist of beginning more aggressive recruiting, especially for his depleted men’s team. Since his program has received extra scholarship money for DI, he said he  is confident attracting successful athletes will be a much-easier task.

However, his present goal is completing a successful first season.

“We’re excited about the challenge of competing in the Southland Conference and rising to the challenge of being a strong DI program,” he said. “It will be an exciting season.”

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