Running as a team

New Head Coach Sean Henning leads the team to a successful first meet and emphasizes pack running moving forward.

Abby+Blake%2FTHE+CHIMES

Abby Blake/THE CHIMES

Jack Finck, Writer

The Biola cross country team participated in their first meet of the season on Sept. 5 in the UC Irvine Invitational. Not only was this the first meet of the season, but also the first meet for the cross country team under the direction of Head Coach Sean Henning.

MAKING A STATEMENT

Biola made quite a statement at the invitational when the women took first out of fifteen teams including the No. 5, The Master’s College, while the men’s team took fifth out of thirteen teams, only scoring 34 points behind Master’s.

“I think that we wanted to really come out and surprise some people that we are a lot better team than people thought we would be,” said Coach Henning. “We really wanted to make a pretty big statement that Biola cross country is a force to be reckoned with.”  

IMPROVING TIME

Seniors Anika Gasner and Kellian Hunt led the women, finishing third and fourth in the race. Both Gasner and Hunt improved on the time from the NAIA National Tournament, in part due to the difficulty of the Nationals course as well as the preparedness they felt going into this race.

“This is one of my better races for sure,” Gasner said. “I felt strong and ready.”  

Senior Kevin Horchler led the men’s team with his third place finish at UC Irvine. The second Eagle to finish was freshman Ryan Thompson, who ended up in 36th place.

“I think it was a really good start,” Horchler said. “Coming from last year where in our second race we only finished three people, having ten guys finish the race is super exciting and [we] got fifth place overall and only 34 points behind the Masters, it was a really good start.”

INCREASING DIFFICULTY

Both the men’s and women’s teams prepare to spend the next month increasing the difficulty of their training despite their second meet of the season at Mustang College on Sept. 19. As a main goal in his training, Coach Henning emphasizes pack running, or running as a team to encourage teammates and improve the general team score instead of individuals running a race.

“There were some really good performances, but I think as a team we struggled to really focus on being a really solid team. We were running a little bit more individually,” Henning said. “Hopefully it showed them that we can be a lot better if we work on the things that we talked about in practice, so my hope is that it was more of a wakeup call that, hey, we can be really good if we implement these things into our race.”

Although it is early in the season, the team has high hopes for winning Conference and showing a strong performance at Nationals after this weekend’s race against The Master’s College. Their next meet will be a good test as they run at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita.

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