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Focus, Attitude and Effort Drive Canes to ACC Championships

by Ashleigh Young

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – It will have been 28 days from Miami cross country’s last competition before stepping on the line at the ACC Cross Country Championships in Cary, N.C., on Friday morning.

But the level of training and preparation has never been higher.

Practice has been ramped up, the volume of workouts is greater and the confidence is climbing. The eagerness to get back on a course is shared by everyone on the team, including Daphnee Lavassas.

“My goal is to get in there and be excited, which I know I will be,” Lavassas said. “I’ll run my best and lay it all on the line and try and do everything I can. Representing the U is an honor and when I wear that jersey, I’m proud and want to do the best.”

The time at home has been a welcomed change for the Canes. Less travel means more recovery time, better resources and a sense of routine with training and also time to hone in on the little things.

“I’ve been trying to focus on more sleep and doing what I can to stay healthy and be in the best possible shape that I can be in leading into ACCs,” sophomore runner Andrew Madden said.

Even though the Canes haven’t competed in a race since the beginning of October, distance coach Cody Halsey made sure her young squad never got too far from that ‘race day effort’. The team took part in a time trial that allowed them to maintain that competitive edge, focus on their upcoming competition and gauge their fitness level.

The trial allowed the team to prepare both mentally and physically for a competition prior to the championship weekend. Miami’s lone senior Emma Langlois enjoyed the time trial and the atmosphere it brought to her team before her fourth ACC Cross Country Championship event. With her experience, Langlois also brings poise and a sense of calmness to her younger teammates.

“Well I definitely bring experience from different coaches, different situations and expectations, but the competition is always huge each year,” Langlois said. “I can bring confidence and hopefully calmness to them and hopefully it translates to my teammates.”

Langlois is always told it’s not about the time, but the performance, by coach Halsey, but that’s not stopping her from shooting for another personal-best time this weekend. With the confidence of her coach behind her, there’s nothing stopping the senior from showing out against top competition.

“I’m so excited for Emma,” Halsey said. “In the past year, she’s really grown into a different type of athlete and truly embraced her role as a leader on and off the course. From what I’ve seen from her day-to-day, she’s ready to do something special.”

The Canes have the opportunity to compete against some of the best cross country teams in the country. On the women’s side, three teams rank in the top 25 in the country with NC State at No. 4, Florida State at No. 21 and Georgia Tech at No. 25. The men will face similar competition with Notre Dame entering the weekend at No. 6, Virginia at No. 16, Syracuse close behind at No. 17 and NC State at No. 21.

It’s a welcomed challenge for Halsey and her team.

“Any time you have a chance to expose young athletes to this type of environment is a great opportunity to learn, compete and give your best effort,” Halsey said. “I want them to take advantage of having the opportunity to showcase how hard they’ve been working all fall and run hard and be competitive form the gun.”

Friday is another chance for the Canes to put one foot in front of the other and compete. At the end of the day, it’s all about controlling what they can control and that’s attitude and effort.