LYNDON CENTER, Vt. — On Saturday, more than 300 runners from across the nation will compete in the 2013 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championship Meet in Hanover, Ind. Among them will be two members of the Lyndon men's cross country program, who will be looking to etch their respective names into the history of the sport.
Kyle Powers, a senior and St. Johnsbury Academy graduate, will compete in the NCAA Championships for a second-straight season while teammate Tyler Scheibenpflug, a junior, will be making his first appearance in the prestigious event.
Powers qualified for the meet by placing ninth at the NCAA New England Regional Meet on Saturday, Nov. 16, posting a time of 24:56 over the eight-kilometer course. With four first-place finishes to his credit in 2013 and having had the experiencing of running in the NCAA Championships a year ago, Powers is optimistic that he can turn in a noteworthy performance.
"At the regional, I needed to be aggressive, but not as aggressive as I was a year ago," he said. "My final time was nine seconds better than last year, but it was 11 seconds slower at the three-mile mark than it was last year. At the NCAA meet, I'll need to be more conservative over the first mile and start picking off people over the last four miles."
In 2012, Powers sprinted off the starting line and managed to run with the lead pack for the first few miles of the race. However, he began to fade in the latter stages of the competition and finished tied for 88th-place in a time of 25.36. Having been through that experience, Powers feels he has a sound strategy that could earn him All-American honors.
"I'd like to run a sub-25 time, maybe around 25:45 or less," he said. "That should put me in the top 35 and on the All-American team. It would certainly be humbling honor but it would also tell me that I put out my best effort possible."
In the 2013 season, Powers was named an All-North Atlantic Conference First Team selection as well as the league's Male Runner of the Year for a second consecutive year.
As for Scheibenpflug – another All-NAC First Team honoree - a trip to the national championship meet seemed improbable in September as he recovered from a meniscus injury suffered in the pre-season. But after four top-10 finishes in a field of seven races over the 2013 season, the Wolcott, Conn. appears to be ready for arguably the most important race of his career.
"I think it's important not to go out too fast," he said. "About the two-mile mark I'd like to see where I am. About that time the guys who went out too fast get tired and if I go out at a good pace I'll be ready to make a move."
Unlike Powers, Scheibenpflug had to wait nearly 24 hours after the NCAA Regional to learn his fate. Once the at-large bids were handed out he quickly learned he had qualified for the national meet, ending many long hours and anxious moments.
"That was nothing more than 24 hours of stress," he said. "The bus ride home was long and I found myself thinking that 'I'm not going' which did little to ease my mind. I didn't sleep much that night either. But I received a text the next day stating that I would be going and I couldn't be happier. I was definitely an emotional moment for me."
With no experience in the race and little knowledge of the championship course, Scheibenpflug will spend most of his time in Indiana preparing himself for his first taste of national competition and perhaps an opportunity to leave his mark on NCAA Cross Country history.
"I've watched a video of the course," but you really don't know much until you run it," he said. "I'm excited to have this opportunity, but I am a little nervous going in. If I finish in the top-75, I'll be really happy, however if I am running my best, I'd like to make a run at making the All-American Team."
Powers, Scheibenpflug and Lyndon Head Cross Country Coach Chris Ummer flew to Indiana this morning and will spend the next two days training for the NCAA Meet on the championship course in Hanover. The race will begin on Saturday at approximately 12:30 p.m.