By: CASEY MCDONALD
Cross country is a little different than racing, it takes stamina, endurance and long distance running. Another one of our teams going into their second season is cross country. Coach Rob Carrasco and his team hope to expand their skills and record as the year progresses.
Coach Rob Carrasco has quite the experience under his belt. As an All-State athlete in cross country at Mishawaka High School, Carrasco won various local races such as the New Prairie Invitation, Sectionals and Regionals, where he still holds the record at Erskine golf course. He also finished in the top 10 at State twice and finished as high as third. He broke 15 minutes for the 5K, which he said, “only a handful of high school kids in Indiana have done.”
He coached at John Glenn for five years where he led the team to win their division at the Culver Invitational.
“We won the county championship a few times, and I coached a sectional champion in track and cross country. [I] also coached numerous athletes that were all conference at Glenn in cross country and track.”
This year’s team is working hard and is improving with every practice. “They are very dedicated to their team and the school, and that’s all a coach can really expect,” Carrasco said. “They all have a great attitude, and I think that’s the key to everything you do in life. You should always be trying to figure out ways to improve.”
Coming into the second season was hard for both men’s and women’s teams, having no women to start the season and only 20 percent of the men’s lineup back for this season. The coaches do a lot to bring in more runners to the team. As of Friday, the women’s team now has a full team.
“I [along with the team] have been attending every local race that [we] can possibly get to,” Carrasco said. “We are talking to every athlete that we think would be a good fit for the program here and competing for runners with the likes of Bethel and Goshen College.”
His style of coaching is laid back but he is competitive and driven to win.
“I want to do well, and I want the runners to improve but I’m not going to be getting in anyone’s face to get them to perform,” he said. “They have to want to do it for themselves or for whatever reason it is that motivates them. I plan and implement workouts that are designed to peak runners at the right time.”
First year runner, freshman Jacob Imus got involved with cross country his junior year of high school, graduating from Mishawaka Marian. Another freshman joining the team this year is Jacob Kasarda, a 2016 graduate from La Porte High School, who has been running cross country since sixth grade. Sophomore Trevor McDonald, a 2015 graduate also from La Porte High School, has been running since eighth grade.
Recruitment for both teams has been a difficult, but the teammates have helped the coaches with the process. The men’s team is grateful to have some good luck with recruitment this year, after losing eight of their 10 runners last season. McDonald and the rest of the team have recruited students from campus because they know them personally.
“The effect it has on us is more or less a huge confidence boost,” McDonald said. “Whenever we feel our times are not well or we are not running well, we just think, ‘man if we had that recruit here, he would help push us through it, we would be able to have a more solid pack.”
The men will also go to nearby meets and talk to the runners from different schools. The team gives prospects the rundown of what IUSB’s campus life is like.
“We talk of the nice qualities of being an athlete and a student, along with also letting them know the benefits of campus living, as well as the access to the SAC,” McDonald said.
Every team has a goal in mind to do their best, win after working hard, and develop relationships with not only teammates but also other athletes over time.
McDonald said that he wants them all to “get great personal records in an eight kilometer because, until now, all the new recruits have not ran an 8K.”
But mostly, overall he says the team are all just “really excited to progress together and grow together to become a better and faster team.”
This is Coach Carrasco’s second season here at IU South Bend and he has made some great progress with the team.
“I am lucky enough to know Coach Carrasco from high school, and he has had a big impact on me with not only running, but life in general,” Imus said. “His personal knowledge and inspiring stories have motivated me greatly. I would not be where I am today without him.”
Kasarda added that, “all of the practices are laid back and the focus is to improve everyday.”
“It is great to know he was such a great runner at one time,” McDonald said. “I could listen to all his running stories and they are truly quite inspiring.”
Carrasco brings this mentality of working with each other yet also competing with each other. When it comes to meets, “Coach brings a relaxed mentality and no huge worries,” McDonald said. “He brings a lot of confidence and support that in no way shape or form seems faked or easily misinterpreted.”
The Men’s cross country team has competed in two invitationals so far since the start of the school year, and has three more invites through November.