The Chanticleers are dealing with a bit of déjà vu.
A year removed from having to skip a late regular-season event because of historic flooding, the Coastal Carolina cross country teams have had to do so again because of the effects of Hurricane Matthew.
On Friday, the Chants skipped the Royals XC Challenge in Charlotte, N.C., ironically the same event they added to the schedule in a previously scheduled off week last year after skipping a trip to the Upstate Invitational in Spartanburg. The canceled trips were just four days apart on their respective calendars.
“It was eerily similar to last year and almost the same weekend,” CCU coach Jeff Jacobs said.
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Now, the coach is scrambling to get his teams ready for a crucial week on the schedule. Most importantly, the women’s team’s top six runners – Annie Bothma, Kyla van Graan, Aynslee van Graan, Alyssa LeClaire, Alesia Muklebust and Kayla Tracy – are set to compete in the NCAA Pre-Nationals on Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind.
It definitely helped them a lot to let them go to that preview meet for when they go to the national meet.
CCU coach Jeff Jacobs on having runners in the past compete in the Pre-Nationals
The men’s team and the rest of the CCU women’s squad are scheduled to run in the High Point Vert XC Invitational on Friday in Kernersville, N.C.
While Jacobs said his runners – most of whom evacuated – were all fine and accounted for, the hurricane has made for some scrambling.
“Of course I would have much rather run it than not run it, but it wasn’t the most critical meet on our schedule,” Jacobs said of the Charlotte event. “I would say really this weekend is, and that’s what I was really worried about until they announced [Monday] about returning Wednesday and classes Thursday. I think we can probably pretty safely get everybody back here; I’m a little worried about traveling [Interstate] 95 for some people, but I think we should be able to get everyone back here so that we can get to the meets this weekend.”
Ranked seventh in the 51-team Southeast region, Coastal could potentially gain some ground toward securing an NCAA berth should it have a strong performance in Terre Haute. The 31-team NCAA Championships includes two teams from nine regions as automatic qualifiers and then invites 13 at-large squads.
The goal is to try to beat some quality programs from outside of our region. That way it gives us a chance at an at-large berth.
CCU coach Jeff Jacobs
Individuals from teams that didn’t make the field can also qualify.
“Hopefully we can knock off some teams outside of the region. That could help us for a possible at-large berth as a team,” Jacobs said. “But as well, our top individuals – Annie, Aynslee and Kyla – will get an opportunity to run against some of the best people in the country and on the national course. Should they qualify as a team or individually, they’ll have experience on the course.”
During the evacuation, Jacobs and his assistants stayed in touch with the runners and sent them workouts via text or email.
However, missing team activities is another obstacle the Chants must try to overcome.
“It’s definitely a little bit of hectic-ness. The team thrives on training together,” Jacobs said. “I’m sure most of them are able to get the workouts in, but they’re all having to do it for the most part probably on their own. And that’s obviously harder to get the same kind of intensity. I think that’s the main thing that we lose, because you can run kind of anywhere. It’s not like you have to have a basketball gym or a football field. Runners are pretty creative as far where they can get runs in.
“As far as the part of pacing together, training together and really pushing each other, that’s what the team thrives on and we are kind of missing that element for a week. But I think we can recover from it.”
Following this week’s events, Coastal will travel to Dothan, Ala., two weeks later for the Sun Belt Championships.
“As long as we’re able to get to the meets we’re scheduled for this weekend, I think we’ll be all right,” Jacobs said.