PORTALES — Greg LaSage took the Eastern New Mexico University cross country job last year knowing he was basically building a program from the bottom up.
The Greyhounds and Zias had modest success in 2002 — neither finished last in the Lone Star Conference — but LaSage is determined to see them do better.
“Injuries hit us pretty hard last year; it was just one of those things,” said LaSage, who also serves as ENMU’s assistant baseball coach under Phil Clabaugh. “But I couldn’t be happier with the people we have returning this year, and I think the new people have fit in well.”
LaSage’s troops, around 15 in number, work out twice each day, including a 5:30 a.m. practice session. Part of that, he said, is to see who’s committed to the program.
“They’re buying into the philosophy,” he said of his athletes. “Outcomes follow methods, and we’re going to follow methods.
“Last year when I got the job, we had one returnee and she redshirted (junior Jana Villegas). We brought in basically 19 new people, and out of that we brought back 10.
“The people we asked back were committed to the program, and were interested in building something. At this level, and in this conference, it’s a process.”
LaSage said that while results are important, he’s more interested in the commitment part of the deal. Eastern opens its season on Saturday in the Buffalo Stampede, hosted by West Texas A&M in Canyon.
“If we go out and compete, I’m not going to have any problem about where we finish,” he said. “All we’ve got is all we’ve got, but we have to be sure we’re giving everything we can.”