Cross country confident to repeat success

Despite the loss of several key seniors, the cross country team sets big goals for next season.



Jack Finck, Writer

The 2015 Biola cross country season was highlighted by the women’s team taking first in the Golden State Athletic Conference and moving on to claim third in the NAIA National Championship, while the men took second in GSAC and 25th in the NAIA Tournament.  

producing historic results

The largest obstacle to overcome for both teams will be replacing the graduating seniors. Seven women and three men will not return next season, including seniors Kevin Horchler and Kellian Hunt who both took first in the GSAC Championship. Senior Anika Gasner will also be missed as she took third. All three also earned NAIA All-American honors at the NAIA Championship where Hunt finished first to become the second national champion in Biola’s history.   

Head coach Sean Henning, who produced historic results in his first year on the job, is already preparing his team for next season. To date, two women and one man have signed commitment letters. Highlighting the group is high school senior Mandy Reyes from Crean Lutheran High School. Reyes won the Academy League MVP Award and took first in the  individual cross country championship.  

two-sport athletes

A unique challenge to many cross country team members face is the difficulty of being a two-sport athlete. It is not uncommon for runners in cross country to also run for the track and field team, which makes them run all year long. Before they can focus on the upcoming cross country season, they must compete in the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on May 26.

“We are really focused on finishing this track season strong and carrying that mentality into summer training,” said junior Jonathan O’Neil. “We train six days a week a majority of the summer so we are pretty excited to build upon the success from this track season. We have a strong core in both the men's and women's teams.”

well-deserved rest

After the track and field season concludes, returning athletes will receive a few well-deserved weeks to rest their legs. After that, Henning puts them back to work with a summer workout plan.

“We have a two or three week break I believe,” O’Neil said. “And then he gives us a running plan and we train six days a week for the rest of the summer. We come back early August so our summer seems pretty short when combined with training. We take a lot of care of our bodies and the Athletic Training staff spoils us, so it does not take long for us to recover physically and be ready for the next season.”

Despite the loss of many key athletes, the cross country team still holds high goals.

“We want to win the GSAC this year because it's our last year competing in NAIA DII so we want to end it with a big decisive win,” O’Neil said. “Our goal is to place well at nationals and just improve on all fronts.”

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