MEQUON, Wis. – Imagine a basketball team bringing in a First-Team All-NBA player to practice or a NCAA Division III Football team getting the chance to train with a Pro-Bowl level quarterback. Concordia University Wisconsin's Cross Country programs received insight from world-class runners this past week, as the Falcons attack the championship portion of their schedule.
Kenyans Caleb Ndiku and Mercy Cherono, both world-class runners in various distance events, were on the CUW campus thanks to a friendship formed with senior Jordan Guenther (West Bend, Wis.). Guenther has traveled all over the world to various track & field and cross country events, getting an opportunity to meet top runners around the globe.
Guenther met Ndiku, who was the third fastest 1,500-meter runner in the world this year at the 2011 Adidas Grand Prix, in New York. From there Ndiku introduced Guenther to Isiah Koech and Mercy Cherono.
Cherono earned silver medal honors at the 2013 Track & Field World Championships. Koech, who earned bronze in the 5,000-meters at the 2013 World Championships, has been to CUW twice and could visit again in the spring.
Ndiku and Cherono have impressive resumes, as both claimed World Junior Championship titles. In 2010, Cherono claimed cross country and 3,000-meter titles, while Ndiku earned championships in cross country and 1,500-meter run.
During their time in Wisconsin, the two world-class athletes have seen the training styles of NCAA Division III collegiate runners. One thing that both Guenther and Ndiku noticed was the different training styles at this level.
"The one thing I've always noticed was that their easier days are actually easier than ours," Guenther said. "They really push on harder days."
Ndiku was at the Falcons practice last Friday, a day before they took part in the Wisconsin Private College Championships. During the practice, he was taken back at how hard the Falcons were working just a day before the meet.
"We started the training and I was amazed at how fast they were going," Ndiku said. "My training style allows for more rest before a race."
The Falcons have certainly had the benefit of being able to pick the minds and train with both Ndiku and Cherono. It comes at a good time, as CUW will run in the NACC Championships Saturday, November 2.