The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News


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Pre-season men’s cross country QNA

Eastern Illinois University Athletics
Sophomores Mason Stoeger (190) and Michael Atkins (181) run during the Walt Crawford Open meet at the Panther Trail during the 2022 season.
Several runners on the men’s cross country team said they are excited to start the season with the Walt Crawford Open on Sept. 1. (Eastern Illinois University Athletics)

Panther sophomores Mason Stoeger and Michael Atkins and fifth-year Adam Swanson talked about their training over the summer, how they are adjusting after losing one of their best runners, Dustin Hatfield, and how they feel about their first meet of the season. Eastern’s first meet is the EIU Walt Crawford Open on the Tom Woodall Panther Trail. This meet is set for Friday, Sept. 1 at 4:30 p.m.

Q: How did you train over the summer?

A: “So training in Florida was quite an experience. It’s really humid there. I mean, I’m more of a night owl. I don’t like waking up and running in the morning. I usually like to run at night, so things change a lot here, but in Florida, it’s really humid and hot. Even if you wake up at, seven, like we run here, it’s already very hot. I still had to get through it, which is rough, but it helps you. Mentally, it helps you a lot. There were times where I would run a night though, just because it would be a little cooler, not much cooler, but maybe like a few degrees or the humidity would drop a little bit. It was definitely quite a learning experience, and I think it’ll help me if anything, mentally with how hot it was, and it was a good summer block of training.”

-Adam Swanson

A: “I went home and trained there. Occasionally for long runs, a couple of us who live in the same area would meet up at a meet in the middle point, and we’d do longer runs there. When I’d train by myself, as soon as I’d wake up, I get out the door. We usually have one run on easy days, and I get that run done, which is about 60 minutes of running and some sprint work after. I’m normally done at 9:00, and then I go on with my day.”

-Mason Stoeger

A: “This summer, I trained a lot by myself. I met up every once in a while with some friends, and I met up with a couple of my teammates. I met up with three of them over the summer because we all kind of live in close proximity. I would try and run with people at least two or three times a week, and then everything else was by myself. My sister was a huge training partner. She’s a big runner, and she runs marathons, and we would try to meet up two times a week to run together. Some people stayed here in Charleston, but I like going home in the summer and just seeing my family and running at home, but it’s nice to be back with the team.”

-Michael Atkins

Q: How is it adjusting after losing Dustin Hatfield?

A: “No, I haven’t felt any pressure at all, I think, you know, definitely, it’s rough losing someone that great or that higher caliber of an athlete as Dustin was because he was one of the best of all time at distance running at this school. Learning a lot from him and training with him for a few years, I feel like I can definitely take what he’s taught me and definitely help the younger people out. In terms of doing workouts and stuff and scoring points for the team, I still think just because we aren’t as strong with another person, me and Dustin upfront, we can still have a lot of those individual younger people be able to step it up. Maybe they may not be at the Dustin level, but they can definitely be at the level I was at last year, and maybe I can fill in Dustin’s role, almost, I don’t know about entirely, but definitely, you know, do my part.”


A: “Obviously, a lot of guys need to step up, and a lot of pressure is going towards the sophomore class this year and the junior class. The guys who are the seniors and grad students this year have already proven themselves. Adam Swanson and Richie Jacobo take a big role in trying to fill the shoes of Dustin, which is already going to be tough. Right now, we’re kind of hoping that Richie and Adam lead the way as one and two, and then our three through eight or nine is all packed up and as close behind as possible. We didn’t really do last year. Last year was a 20 second spread between each person when this year, it might be Adam and Richie and then 15 seconds later my be our three through eight coming in. We’re just hoping to work together and pack up a lot better than we did last year and rely on the back half of our team, rather the front half.”


A: “Obviously, it’s bad to lose one of your best runners, but I don’t think we’re worried at all. A lot of guys stepped up from last year. A lot of us got faster and stronger, and I think a lot of guys are ready to make the next step and replace the spots that those are the people that left. Our team looks a little different this year than it did last year. We’ll have like a tighter pack. There will be more of us all together rather than a couple of us up front and a couple of us in the middle. There’ll be a lot of us just very close together. We’re all very similar and speed right now. We’re not worried about having a young team; it’s exciting, actually because there’s only good to come, certainly learning lessons and learning from the things we do wrong this year. Then next year, when we’re all returning, we can all correct them. We’re young and we’re excited. I think a lot of people are sleeping on us this year, because, you know, we lost a lot of good runners, but I think teams will be surprised with where we’re at.”


Q: How are you feeling about the Walt Crawford Open on Friday, Sept. 1?

A: “Individually, I feel pretty good. I had a decent summer training, and then coming into the season, once we’re back with the team, the training, obviously goes up another level and I get in better shape, so I feel pretty good individually. I feel like the race coming up the Walt Crawford on the first I could definitely go into that race with the winning mindset individually, and definitely team-wise as well, but ya I feel good. And I feel like I really run well there to open up my season.”

– Swanson

A: “I feel pretty good. We got a hot week ahead of us, so that’ll definitely help for the afternoon races. If anytime it is hot, we’ll be prepared for it. I’m pretty excited, I think the whole team is excited, and everyone is just ready to run.”


A: “I’m excited. I am very antsy and anxious to race again. Over the summer, you get in this phase of just training. You don’t race at all during the summer, you go from your last race in May and then waiting until Sept. 1. You have all that time to just train, so now these past two weeks, I’ve been trying to get into that racing mindset and preparing myself for what’s to come. All I’ve been doing is training in not racing, so I’m super excited. It’s a fun time, and it’s a very fun weekend. Aside from Walt Crawford, we have a team weekend where we go camping and stuff like that. Yeah, I’m excited. Our team is ready for sure.”


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About the Contributor
Zaria Flippin, Sports Editor
Zaria Flippin is a junior sports media relations major. This is her first year at The News.

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