Friday, November 4, 2011

Cross Country runs forward Regionals

Seniors build program's legacy, create competition

By Judah Heimlich, Guest Writer

Pacific Lutheran University’s co-captain seniors Barrett Bollen and Sean Andrascik have been a part of the rebuilding of the cross-country team since their arrival at PLU.
Senior Sean Andrascik (center) leads the PLU
men’s cross-country team at practice on the PLU track.
PLU’s cross-country team will compete at regionals
Nov. 12 in Claremont, Calif.
Photo by Judah Heimlich

The PLU cross-country team struggled during the last decade to become a competitive team that can make it to Regionals. The team finished ninth out of nine teams in last year’s North West Championship. The North West Championship is one step lower than Regionals.

“The last few years we have not done well on a conference level and the top runners in the conference are good nationwide,” Bollen said.

But this year the team spirit has a different feel as PLU is set to make it to Regionals.

“We’ve gone from being last in the conference to being able to go to Regionals and finishing the highest in conference since 2003,” Bollen said.

The team’s front runner is sophomore Alan DenAdel. He is poised to get all-conference and has been setting personal records left and right,” Bollen said.

DenAdel proved this by placing first overall at Linfield with a time of 26:07.51.

Bollen joined the team in 2007 as a first-year before leaving overseas to join the Marine Corps for a year. He returned to PLU in 2009 and has been a steady competitor for the cross-country team.

“This year has been different” Bollen said. “We have an eight-man squad and we need seven runners for each race which means everyone on the team must be able to compete.”

Bollen went on to say that by having cuts this year they have become a much more competitive team.

Making it to Regionals is just one of the goals Andrascik pointed out for the team this year.

“Making it to Regionals is a big exposure of competitors for the underclassmen and it will open up for more recruits to make them even more competitive,” Andrascik said.

For Andrascik doing cross-country is all about going after that next challenge.

“I went to a small high school that did not have a cross-country team and I saw this as a new challenge to go after,” Andrascik said. “Having the title of collegiate athlete is something that I wanted to get out of my college experience.”

Andrascik gives his coach, Heather Kreier, a lot of the credit for the team’s success.

“The dedication that coach has put in has been great,” Andrascik said. “She has put in so much time and effort into us and it’s been quite an experience being an athlete under her.”

While the players honor their coach she just wants people to appreciate the work they have done.

“We want people to know about our upcoming races [Regionals],” Kreier said.

The men’s team finished seventh place at the Northwest Conference Cross Country Championship on October 29th with their top runner, DenAdel placing fourth overall with a time of 25:30.93. The Lutes were ranked seventh going into the conference and finished

The Lutes next race is the West Regional Championship Nov. 12 in Claremont, Calif.