The Pratt Community College Cross Country team faces a tough schedule with competitions against NCAA teams.

Twenty-three men and women of the Pratt Community College cross country team arrived on campus on Aug. 4, 20 more runners than just one year ago. With 19 of them being freshmen, the Beavers took it to the roads on Monday evening for the first practice of the 2014 season. The men will be running up to 75 miles per week this season, while the women’s team will peak around 65.

The runners and Head Coach Dan Adler know the intense work it will take to compete in their challenging region. Five of the top 12 ranked teams in the women’s 2013-2014 season came from this region. The men’s side is equally tough, as the region produced five teams that cracked the top 10 of the national rankings at some point last season.

To prepare for the competition, Pratt has stacked its schedule with tough invitationals throughout the country. Most notably, the team will travel to Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Arkansas to take on not only the best competition the NJCAA has to offer, but also top NCAA teams.

“Not everyone can run at the NCAA D 1 level,” said Adler. “ It’s my goal to make Pratt a NJCAA school with a NCAA D1 experience, minus all of the free gear. But in the end, will these young student-athletes remember getting free shoes or remember competing against universities like Texas Tech, OSU and Arkansas? In addition to that, I want my teams to get that exposure because I believe many of our runners will continue running after their time at Pratt.”

In order for Pratt’s cross country program to attend these elite meets, some sacrifices will have to be made. For instance, the team will be departing Pratt at 7:30 a.m. on a Friday for a 5:30 p.m. meet in Texas. Estimated return time to Pratt: 3:30 Saturday morning. The team is cutting out hotel cost again when they travel to Arkansas. They are departing campus at 1:30 a.m. for the Saturday morning meet.

“When I told the team we’d be leaving at some crazy times, I urged them to embrace it. While other schools will preview the course the day before and stay in hotels near the event, we’ll be hopping off a six hour bus ride, warming up, and then taking care of business during the race. They’ve bought into that fighter’s mentality.”

The team’s first invitational will take place at Allen County on Aug. 22. With Allen, Highland, Barton and Coffeyville scheduled to be there, the Beavers will get an early test against region competition.

For more information about the Pratt Community College Cross Country Team, contact Adler at 620-450-2163 or