Heading into the fall sports season, the UW-River Falls men’s cross country team has a different look to it.
The team is now co-coached by both Scott Sekelsky, who was formerly only the women’s coach, and Matthew Cole, who will also be the University’s head coach in track and field. They will act as co-coaches for both the men’s and women’s teams.
This season, Sekelsky coaches the training for both teams, while Cole operates the administrative side.
“What I wanted to do was make Coach Sekelsky our distance coordinator across the board. I wanted to give him the full responsibility of training our men’s distance runners as well as our women’s distance runners,” Cole said. “But I wanted to take away his day to day obligations like budgeting, recruiting and traveling. A lot of the behind the scenes stuff that you don’t see that people don’t typically think a coach has to deal with.”
Coaching the men’s team in addition to the women’s team is something which Sekelsky said is different, but good.
“I haven’t coached both genders for about seven or eight years, but my philosophy is that I wouldn’t coach a female any different than a male,” Sekelsky said. “What I’ve liked is that we’re doing it as one big team. We’re all going to the same place to workout, where we used to go to separate places.”
Sophomore Kody Guden, who was the No. 1 runner for the team, which finished fifth at the Falcon Invitational, also said that the coaching change was different, but that he likes the new direction.
“He’s [Sekelsky] pretty good and really knows what he’s doing. He’s really concentrated on our times and paces,” Guden said. “I’ve really enjoyed it, having a different coach.”
Another big difference on the men’s team is the large amount of underclassmen leading the way on the course so far this season. At the Falcon Invitational, UWRF was the only team to not have a senior runner in its top seven.
However, despite none of the senior runners being in the top seven, Cole said that he sees a positive relationship between the seniors and the underclassmen.
“We have great leadership in our seniors, which is very important, and our talent is in our youth. We have a strong sophomore class and have a handful of young guys who are really our pure team, but our leadership up top with our seniors is fantastic,” Cole said. “It’s really what a good program is built on.”
The next meet for the men’s team will be at the Roy Griak Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota.
“It’s a hilly course that’s for sure. It really makes you show where your training is,” Guden said. “Either you die or you make it.”
With such a young team, the Falcons are not seen as a favorite in the WIAC conference.
“I think that seventh or eighth range is realistic for them. There are six teams in our conference that ranked in the top 10 in our region. It’s going to be difficult to pass any of those,” Sekelsky said.
However, with a strong group of underclassmen the future looks bright for the men’s team.
“I think in the next five years, we can be in that top five category. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and it’s really about where they want to be,” said Cole.
The men’s team will be running at the Roy Griak Invitational at 9 a.m., on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the University of Minnesota Bolstad Golf Course.