Despite former head coach Erik Stevens' departure from Texas State before the cross country season, the 2022-23 Bobcat cross country team worked together and was determined to make the running season one for the books.
Stevens started at Texas State in 2021 as an assistant coach for distance runners and left the program two weeks before the cross-country season began in the fall. Stevens' replacement, Stefan Campos, left the program after the fall season, and the team was left without any leadership.
"Historically, Texas State has had a big turnover in distance coaches," John Frazier, director of track and field and cross country, said. "My goal is to have someone who is committed."
The team pushed through the season and continued to place and hit personal records individually. Freshman Abigail Parra had a personal record at the Bobcat Invitational track meet, placing third in the women's 1500-meter run with a time of 4:56.86.
Sophomore Megan Ombres finished her 2022 cross-country season by placing in the top 50 runners for the 8K race at the Sun Belt Championship. She finished with a time of 19:07.1. During the 2023 track season she finished first in the women's 1500-meter run with a time of 4:49.98 at the Charles Austin Classic in San Marcos.
"I think we've done really good," Ombres said. "We only have four girls that are healthy and running in practice right now, so with the team that we have I think we've done a good job of responding to all the different sort of things that's been going on and getting stuff done that needs to get done."
The team was not left without any leadership. Graduate students Aubrey Schmidt and Micah Schwartz stepped up and provided a sense of familiarity and confidence. They helped the team maintain a routine and a reliable running schedule.
Volunteer assistant coach Randal Grizzle also stepped up and worked with the team throughout its struggle of not having a head coach or enough recruitment for the team.
Grizzle's dedication to the cross-country and track teams and his plans to improve the cross-country program earned him the job of head coach for the fall.
"He's a good person," Frazier said. "He's a local resident of Texas, the San Marcos area, and he's a [University of Texas] graduate. He came in with a plan, and already he's accomplishing the goals, especially on the men's recruiting and still working on women's recruiting and so it's been really good."
Despite the obstacles the cross country team faced during the past season, the runners are ready to come back and, as of now, none of them plan on entering the transfer portal and leaving Texas State.
"I feel like we trust Texas State, the program and we trust Frazier. He's not going to put us in some crappy ends," Parra said. "I was never really worried, and I feel like everything is going to work out in the end, so that's all that really matters."
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