Cross country introduces new coach


Martin Owens became the director of track & field and cross country operations one week after classes started. // Photo courtesy of Guilford Athletics

New Guilford College Cross Country Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Operations Martin Owens is positive about the upcoming season, even though he believes the team may only compete in two or three meets this year.

Owens was announced as director just a week after classes started, but all runners that competed last season have not returned for this season. He provides the team with knowledge of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, knowing many of the coaches and colleges that Guilford competes against. Due to the occurrence of not having any returning athletes, he and women’s head track coach Marla Lindsay looked to the track and field athletes to fill the roster.

Senior Mahmoud Henderson is a sprinter for Guilford, but he understood the situation happening with the cross-country team and took the initiative to support his coaches in their endeavors.

“I decided to run cross country this season to keep our program going and to get in better shape for indoor season,” said Henderson. “Coach Marla really pushed me to challenge myself and I accepted. I truly believe this will help me prepare for my season.”

He, alongside first-year transfer student from Catawba College, Zarea Pitts, makes up two of the small handful of athletes that have committed to the challenge of running cross country to keep the program afloat.

“I have to give the sprinters who are running a lot of credit,” said Owens. “They did not do any of the base training over the summer and are doing this to keep the team going. We just need to be patient. There is so much turmoil.”

Since many of the athletes are sprinters, Owens has altered the training regimen to suit them. He says that even though the workouts are centered around prolonged sprints, he has littered a small amount of distance to ensure the athletes will be able to complete a cross country event.

Many of the runners on the women’s team are sophomores or first-years. This has helped Pitts become accustom to the new atmosphere of Guilford College and acquainted with her fellow teammates and coaches.

“I feel that you get more attention on your strengths and weaknesses because it’s a small team,” said Pitts. “I still feel that we are accomplishing our goals as a small team.”

On the men’s team, Henderson is one of two upperclassmen. He views this as an opportunity to assist the team in multiple ways.

“Being one of the few upperclassmen on the team puts me in the position to take responsibility and show leadership skills when needed,” says Henderson. “I have entered this season with the mindset of being there whenever a teammate needs me and pretty much showing the underclassmen the ropes to carry the team once I graduate.”

Owens, as well as his athletes, has remained optimistic about the season. They all believe it to be a virtuous and incredible to run. Both Owens and Lindsay enjoy training the students into competitors that, they believe, will develop quickly and be ultimately ready for indoor and outdoor track and field.

“The team is young and growing, some goals are being the best we can be and trying our hardest all the time no matter the situation,” said Henderson. “If we can achieve this, we can surprise ourselves. We have the opportunity to run collegiately, this alone should pump you up.”

Guilford cross country looks to compete on September 22, in the Hornet Harrier Invitational at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. Owens says that by then, he hopes veteran runners will return to compete.

“I believe runners are a type of breed that, if you are away from it for too long, you develop a need to run,” said Owens. “(They) made their decision. The door is always open. Whenever (they) want to come back, the door will be open.”