In 2015, in his second season as head coach of men’s and women’s cross country, Matt Barber took both teams to the championships in both the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) and the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA).
The men placed fourth in the SCAC and ninth in the USCAA. The women placed third and sixth, respectively. Now in his third season, Barber’s goal is to get both teams back to their previous level of success.
With that goal in mind, Barber has other concerns — both long and short-term — that feed off of that desire for success.
“We have a lot of newcomers this year or people returning to the sport from a year of absence,” Barber said. “And, as a fairly young team, I want to see development.”
Barber is relying on the leadership of experienced upperclassmen to help provide the support and drive the new athletes will need, but he said that the racing experience itself will be the most important part of cultivating a good season.
“I expect to see our underclassmen progress a lot this year and for our upperclassmen to help them manage the ups and downs of a cross country season,” Barber said. “But the biggest growth will come in the form of the confidence gained from this season and these races translating into their long-term development.”
Both teams will compete in five events in the regular season, starting with the Bill Libby Invitational on Sep. 2 at McMurry University and concluding with the University of Dallas Invitational at home on Oct.15.
Between events, Barber has clear goals in mind for what he wants his runners to achieve.
“Going into this year, on a day-to-day basis and even a week-to-week basis, I am looking for consistency, steady growth and a knowledge of the sport,” Barber said. “All of it contributes toward our end goal of placing well at conference.”