Q&A with Texas Tech Cross Country Coach Jon Murray|
Murray and the women's team are three-time defending Big 12 champions
Oct. 11, 2011
The Texas Tech Red Raiders and Lady Raiders cross country teams will compete this weekend at the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ark., but beforehand, Texas Tech Athletics Communications sat down with Texas Tech cross country coach Jon Murray to discuss both of his programs and where his squads are currently at the midway point of the season.
Athletics Communications: You guys are headed to a very strong meet this weekend in Arkansas, the Chile Pepper Festival, what are your thoughts as you head into this competition?
Jon Murray: It is always a good competition. The course is very good. It is very fast, that is the one thing we like about it. We have run it so many times. It is a good mark for the team to be able to judge where they are from other years and where they are at this season.
On the women's side the big competition is going to be Arkansas and Texas. We saw Texas already, so that will be good. We have won it (Chile Pepper Festival) two or three times in the past. We didn't go last year. The weather is always going to be good. The surroundings are good. It is a fun environment. I think everyone enjoys going to be part of that. So on the women's side, there will be some great competition there.
On the men's side it is a 10K, so that is a little different. It will be a good opportunity for them to see that before we go to a regional. Again, it is a fast course. There are not a lot of hills, so that provides them a good opportunity to have a good experience on that course. The competition will be great. I'm not sure all of the teams that will be there, but the ones listed like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Arkansas, those are some of the top teams in the country.
AC: Speaking specifically on the women's side, you have three runners who all have had top-three finishes, how do you see some of the team's top runners finishing on a course like this?
JM: Well, Rose (Tanui) is pretty hard to beat, I'll tell you that. She has run very well ever since she has been with us. She is going to definitely be one of the favorites up there. Caroline (Jepleting) is running very well this year also, and is practicing very well also. She will be exciting to see running there. With the lack of hills on this course it is going to be a good one for her also. She is more of a middle distance/flat ground runner where Rose is a little bit more of long distance (runner). Purity (Biwott), she is just one who is always reliable. She gets in there and does a great job. She does what she needs to do. It is always exciting to have her there. She will do what she needs to do to help the team.
AC: With the men's team, there are so many newcomers and underclassmen, who have been some bright spots who have had some good meets this year?
JM: Reid Strong is someone who has come on very well. I think he is going to be a good leader for us the rest of this year and into the future. Then you have Valentinio (Julien), who has done a good job and works very hard also. The group is pretty equal. They kind of move around quite a bit. There isn't a set position yet. So every meet is interesting to see what is going to happen and to see where people will fit in. That is exciting on that part.
AC: With this being the last meet before the Big 12 Championship at the end of the month (Oct. 29 - College Station Texas), what are you looking to see out of both groups? What do you want to see out of the women before they go out and defend their championship and with the men before they go compete in the conference meet?
JM: We are going to do some different things with racing strategy that will help see where we are and what they can do in those bigger meets coming up. We will work on a few individual people on different parts of their racing. Then just see where they are fitness wise. Those are the main goals right there: working on strategy of what we need to do in the race, where are we fitness wise and what do we need to work on for the next month to get ready for the conference meet.