By Justin Buchanan, Sports Editor
Cross-country runner sophomore Alan DenAdel will represent Pacific Lutheran University in the Division III cross-country national championship in Osh Kosh, Wis. Saturday after placing 12th overall at Regionals and securing the last of seven individuals bids.
DenAdel is the first runner to represent PLU since Floyd Bangerter in 2002, ending a 9-year drought of PLU runners at Nationals.
DenAdel ran in the front of the pack for the majority of the race at Regionals hanging in the top five. However, he fell back into the top 15. DenAdel passed someone in the end of the race to qualify for a Nationals berth with a final time of 25:49.9.
“The turns and soft surfaces killed me,” DenAdel said. “It was a deceptively slow course.”
This season, DenAdel had to rely on himself to place in races.
“Alan is skilled to the point to where Sean [Andrascik] and I can’t really help,” co-captain senior Barrett Bollen said. “He’s [DenAdel] has had to mature on his own.”
DenAdel said his race plan was run with the top runners from other teams using them, as “barometers.”
“I learned I can run at the front,” DenAdel said. “The plan was to go out about 10th and finish the last mile strong.”
DenAdel says he is excited to head to Nationals but is not looking to win it all this year.
“This is more like an exposure year,” DenAdel said. “Next year I’ll have a solid goal be an All-American.”
Co-captain senior Sean Andrascik will be traveling with DenAdel Thursday to assist in warm-ups, race planning and support.
“I’m going to be living vicariously through him this week,” Andrascik said.
Even though DenAdel only placed 12th at Regionals, Bollen views this accomplishment as a huge success.
“Because of the nature of cross-country, you have to think of success differently,” Bollen said. “It’s like if everyone played quarterback and only the top quarterback got recognized.”
Andrasick hopes DenAdel’s success will positively affect the team in the future.
“Alan represents the rebuilding of the program,” Andrasick said. “I feel very comfortable leaving the program over to Alan.”
Head Coach Heather Kreier is proud of DenAdel’s accomplishments and said she has enjoyed watching the men’s cross-country team’s success.
“There are future championships in line for him [DenAdel] if he stays on track,” Kreier said.
At the regional race, the men’s cross-country team placed 15th out of 18 teams. As individuals senior Andrascik placed 79th, 27:37.7, senior Alex Martin 89th, 28:03.6 and senior Barrett Bollen 102nd 28:40.2.