Plendcio blazes trail both as runner and man of God

Cross country is in first place in the PacWest, thanks in large part to the Eagles’ emerging star junior.


Photo Courtesy of Biola Athletics

Joel Ashor, Sports Editor

This story was originally published in print on Nov. 1, 2018.

Talking to junior men’s cross country athlete Gabe Plendcio, one might not think he has become one of the best distance runners in the PacWest conference. His humble attitude and gratefulness toward the sport of cross country shine through in any conversation on the topic, and it grows clear that he does not race for selfish reasons.

“I’ve been able to stay pretty humble. I’m not running for myself, I’m running for my team and ultimately the Lord,” Plendcio said.


According to head coach Sean Henning, this humble, no-nonsense approach has helped Plendcio achieve greatness and inspire those around him to perform at that level. His conduct is what sets him apart as he sets the standard for the younger runners on the team.

“Gabe does a great job leading by example. He has been very consistent with his training, getting his double days in, seeing the athletic trainer, taking care of his body in the little ways, never cutting any corners in his running,” Henning said. “He leads mostly by example of what it would look like to be an elite type college runner and I think the younger guys see that.”

Plendcio has smashed the Biola record for lowest time in the 8k race already this season, formerly held by current assistant coach Kevin Horchler, and he credits much of his success to the help of Henning, Horchler, and the rest of the Eagles’ coaching staff.

“This is only my fifth year running cross country, I didn’t start [until] junior year of high school,” Plendcio said. The coaches have been really encouraging and good at explaining to me the mileage I’m doing and supporting the way I race.”


Henning echoed that sentiment, noting Plendcio has a natural talent for racing effectively and tactically.

“What Gabe has that is really hard to coach is really good racing instinct,” Henning said. “I don’t have to give him a lot of instruction, he’s just very good at trusting himself and knowing when to make moves and when to hold back. He’s very thoughtful and calculated in his approach to each race,” Henning said.


Faith plays a big role in the way Plendcio approaches each race and his team makes it a goal to glorify the Lord in all they do.

“We don’t run for ourselves, we run for the Lord and the glory of God. We have a great opportunity as a Christian school with a pretty great team going into D2 level to be a light to so many secular schools out there. That’s our goal going into every meet,” Plendcio said. “God tells us that we are salt and light of the earth and we have a great opportunity in this sport to showcase love through our accomplishments and… further His kingdom and glory.”

With the PacWest and National Christian College Athletic Association tournaments coming up, Plendcio has lofty goals in mind.

“As an individual I think I have the opportunity to win, so I’m going in confident knowing I’m the best runner going in, but not settling just gonna go in and see how the race goes out. Once I feel it’s my time to go, I’ll go and hopefully take the win,” Plendcio said.

Henning also has high expectations for his star runner, and anticipates that he will compete for the win in both invitationals.

“We always want the guys to be great at going in and doing their job and being selfless and working with each other. For Gabe, he will try to win, just run a smart race and just trust your instincts and go for it,” Henning said.

It is now up to Plendcio to go out and do his job with that humble attitude he practices daily, all the while shining a light upon others through his example.

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