Cross Country begins new season

Isabel Pheifer — Staff Writer

The Dordt University Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams are geared up for another season. The team is no stranger to success, in 2021, both the men and women finished as GPAC champions and went on to place eighth at the national championship.

“Every year we work to prepare our best and allow the results to happen,” Head Cross Country Coach Nate Wolf said.

The Dordt men enter this season ranked first in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll and third in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll, the highest ever ranking in program history. On the women’s side, they were picked first in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll and eighth in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll.

The teams feature 61 athletes, with 21 of those being newcomers and 18 of them seniors.

“We have lots of newcomers this year,” Wolf said. “I am excited to see them develop and gain experience.” 

The men welcome thirteen freshmen and the women welcome eight.

“We also have a large contingent of returners, and I am excited to see the work they have put in the past two, three, and even four years pay-off with a great season,” Wolf said.

The men’s team returns eight of its top 10 runners from last year. Seniors Joe Anderson, Brooks De Waard, Trey Engen, Thaniel Schroeder, Peter Shippy, Eric Steiger, Davis Tebben, and junior Ethan Summerhays round out the returning top eight. Tebben is the reigning GPAC champion, and Steiger is a 2021 All-American and placed 34th at the national championship. The valuable experience of these veterans, as well as the new energy and excitement coming from newcomers could make the Defenders a force to be reckoned with once again.

For the women, over half of their top 10 runners return from last year. The six include seniors Taylor Anema, Elyse Kuperus, and Bethany Ten Haken, as well as juniors Lucy Borkowski, Annika Homan, and Jessica Kampman. Kampman was the GPAC runner-up a year ago and is also a 2x NAIA All-American. These ladies have helped the Defenders to an eighth place national finish the last two years and look to capitalize on their experience as well as the new depth from newcomers in this 2022 season.

Despite all the success in recent seasons, the team remains focused on this season apart from those accomplishments.

“Our focus is on recovery and preparation as we move forward each day, recognizing that each season has to stand on its own, and we will perform our best if we focus on our work at hand,” Wolf said.

The Defenders are ready to face the challenges that accompany each new season, with a lot of these challenges being injuries and making sure their training leads them to a strong end-of-season performance.

“We are hoping to maintain health through the season and have our strongest performances at the end of the season,” Wolf said.

The 2022 season began at the SDSU Classic held at the Edgebrook Golf Course in Brookings, South Dakota on Sept. 9. Both the men and women competed against NCAA D-I and D-II teams. The men took home a third-place team finish, finishing just behind USF and the champion SDSU. Anderson took fourth overall, with Tebben finishing just after him and taking sixth overall. The women took home third place as well, also finishing behind USF and SDSU. Graduate student Kristine Honomichl was the top finisher for the Defenders, finishing 11th, and Borkowski was right behind her securing 13th place.

The Defenders look promising heading into a tough schedule of races this semester. The season continues Sept. 23 at the Griak Invite in Minneapolis, Minnesota and will conclude with the GPAC championship in Jamestown, North Dakota on Nov. 5. The national championship will be in Tallahassee, Florida on Nov. 18. 

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