Running to the record books

The cross country team wraps up what is arguably their best season ever

In one of the toughest NAIA regions in the country where six of the teams are in the nation’s top 25, Biola’s cross country team is reaching rankings they haven’t seen in years.

At the GSAC championship race on Saturday, Biola’s women’s team finished second, the best finish in the school’s history, just seven points behind third-ranked Azusa Pacific University. The men finished a respectable sixth place, trailing Westmont University by seven points.

Sophomore Michael Morin was excited at the changes that have taken place in the team this season.

“We know that we are competitive. We have a target on our backs because people are going after us,” Morin said. “It’s a refreshing change from last year when people just counted us out.”

The Biola women are currently ranked seventh, and the men are ranked 30th in the NAIA, though this may change with new calculations, including Saturday’s meet to be released Wednesday.

The cross country team has two weeks of suspense until the regional meet in Fresno. There they will battle rival Azusa Pacific University for a spot at the national meet in Wisconsin.

In order to beat APU at the regional race, senior runner Danielle Simpson said the women must have more of their women finish before APU’s fifth female runner.

“There is a huge gap between their fourth and fifth runner. To get our top seven girls before their fifth runner is the determining factor of whether we can beat them or not.”

The winning male and female team at each of the 14 regional meets across the country will go to nationals, and an additional 14 teams or individuals will be chosen based on national rank.

Although individual athletes from Biola have received a spot at nationals, the Biola women’s team hasn’t been since 2003, and the men’s team since 1999. Simpson is excited at the prospect of racing at nationals.

“Our team hasn’t gone to nationals in a long time. That’s been my dream for running in college … to make it to nationals,” Simpson said.

Morin was thrilled about Saturday’s times and expects a lot from the team at the upcoming regional race. He hopes the men will move into the top 25. Moving into the nation’s top 25 would give them a chance at going to nationals even if they do not win the regional meet.

“It’s really exciting. We did a complete 180 from last year. All the races before this last season we didn’t even have a full men’s team,” said Morin, who finished the 8k in 29:45.

Thanks to heavy recruiting by Coach Jonathan Zimmerman, the men’s and women’s teams were both able to double in size since last season, something unheard of in cross country. It was important to him to bring in runners who made clear their desire to attend Biola, and who would fit in with the team.

“The kids are comfortable being here. We’ve been able to bring in a bunch of kids who want to be here,” Zimmerman said. “We were able to double in size, but they still care about each other.”

The women’s team alone added nine freshmen, which Morin said brought some needed energy to the team.

“The freshmen bring a lot of energy and drive. They’re brand new, and they are pushing everyone else,” he said. “They are really working hard because they realize there are other people that have been there longer.”

The leadership on the team is also “instrumental” in encouraging the team according to Morin. Coach Zimmerman agreed that the team’s ability to welcome the freshmen was essential, and it showed maturity from older members of the team.

Simpson said the unity of the team has grown since they are all striving for the same goal.

“We can hold each other accountable and push each other to the next level,” she said.

The regional race is at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3, at Woodward Park in Fresno.

0 0 vote
Article Rating