Annechiena Knevelbaard–Guest Writer
For some people, the end of summer and the transition into the colder months means the leaves are going to be changing colors soon and making a mess, though somewhat pretty, on the yard. It means the beginning of a new school year and inevitably pulling out the long johns from the back of the closet. For other people, specifically the Dordt College cross country team, this time of year means another season. Another season to lace up their shoes, hit the gravel roads of Sioux Center, and steadily breath the manure tinged oxygen into their lungs.
Both the men’s and women’s team won their latest meet at Briar cliff. The women had three runners in the top 10 including: Annechiena Knevelbaard in 2nd, Olivia Couch in 6th, Sarah Wensink in 8th. The men had two in the top 10 including: Eric Steiger in 6th and Jacob Vander Plaats in 7th. The Dordt College Men and Women’s cross country have had a really good season so far. Both teams have gone 3 for 3 in their meets, beating their rival Northwestern by a landslide. The meets they have participated in so far includes the Defender Classic Inn Express, Dean White Invitational, and the Briar Cliff Invite.
What spurred the success of the 2018 season for both the men and women, especially compared to past seasons?PErhaps the addition of Coach Lori Wolf and Caleb Drake instigated the winning streak. Maybe the new coaching techniques implemented by Coach Nate Wolf are to be celebrated. Or perhaps it is a little of both.
Past runners have noticed some tweaks in the running schedule.
“The mileage has definitely increased from earlier years,” team captain Sara Wensink said, also mentioning that the whole team does two-a-day practices two days a week. These practices may consist of running five to six miles in the morning and either running three miles or lap swimming in the afternoon. The teams also do strength routines to work different parts of their body, including abdominals, glutes, arms and the muscles around the hips.
“We’ve had some really good runners throughout the years,” Wolf said. “You know like Kayla Byle in 2015, she was always strong and consistent. Caleb Drake was definably an asset to the men’s team last year.” But, though both men’s and women’s teams have had some star athletes, the rest of the team was not able to join Kayla and Sam in being in the top ten in a race. This year, star athletes made it in the top 10 as well as several other teammates.
Scoring fewer points in the race is the name of the game in cross country. The runners on both the guy’s and girl’s teams are closer together in times this year, which sometimes puts two Dordt runners in front of other teams’ number one.
“Having Coach Drake around has been pretty nice,” Wolf said with a smile. “It’s refreshing to have someone to bounce ideas off of, especially because he was running on the team last year. He has a fresh perspective.”
The men and women’s cross country team are looking forward to future meets which includes Mount Marty on October 19, Gpac champions on November 3, and hopefully the NAIA National Championship on November 16. Currently the men are rated 17th in the Gpac and the Women are rated 9th.