The Georgia College men’s cross country team started the season off strong with being named the 2017 Border Clash Champions in Valdosta, Georgia.
Georgia College sophomore Shawn Olmstead came in first place, running the race in 19:38. Olmstead partially credits his win to his coach, Steven Cary.
“Honestly, I just do everything my coach tells me to,” Olmstead said.
The Bobcats had three runners in the top five overall. Junior Collin Silliman came in third place with a time of 19:48 and was followed closely by freshman Brennan Silliman, his younger brother, with a time of 19:50.
Silliman says running with his brother Brennan is very competitive, but it helps him perform better. Silliman is also hoping for a great season ahead.
“We have a very young, talented squad,” Silliman said. “I see the team succeeding well this year.”
Cary is the men’s and women’s cross country coach and expects a great upcoming season. He said he is focused on the team building a strong foundation so that later in the season when the team “ups the intensity,” they will be able to handle it.
Before the Border Clash, the team underwent one of their biggest training weeks, and they were still able to win.
“I thought that speaks volumes about where they’re at mentally and just going into the season with the mindset they have,” Cary said. “To be fatigued, already, going into the race and still being able to do well—that’s what I was looking for.”
Cary has strategies he uses for each race which he says create the best performances from the runners. He groups runners together based on their abilities, and, ideally, they will run together to create faster times.
For the Border Clash, Cary grouped Olmstead with brothers Collin and Brennan Silliman, ultimately resulting in first, third, and fourth place wins.
“They executed the plans that I gave them,” Cary said. “Part of coaching is not just having the right plan; it’s also the day-to-day tweaking of the plan.”
The Bobcats still have a long season ahead of them, but Cary and the team plan to work hard in the next ten weeks to continue running well. He said that a large part of running well is mental, so he tries to emphasize visualization and positive self-talk.
“I think if you start running for other people—for a team, for an institution, for your family, whatever the case—it’s a little more than just running for yourself,” Cary said. “It has that extra intrinsic motivation.”
Cary plans to use the momentum the team gained at the Border Clash to continue to succeed this season.
Photo courtesy of GC Sports Information