Optimism high for regionals

On Saturday, the SPU men’s and women’s cross country teams will head to Lake Padden in Bellingham for the NCAA Division II West Regionals. The top four teams at the meet will go on to the NCAA Championships in Slippery Rock, Pa.

The women’s team has been plagued by injuries, and some of those problems, thought conquered, are returning to bother the runners. "It’s been one of those seasons where we’re having a hard time having everyone 100 percent at the same time," head coach Doris Heritage said.

Despite all the injuries, Heritage and the team remain hopeful. "It still might all come together … I hope that our harriers [runners] overcome their injuries and have the race of their lives," Heritage said.

One of the reasons for hope is that one of the team’s leading runners, senior Rachel Ross, returned last meet from leg injuries and did well. Another bright spot has been sophomore Jamie Witt, who has been the women’s leading scorer in three out of the last four meets.

"It will be a challenge to get to nationals," junior Sarah Kraybill said, "but if we have top runners and everyone runs to their potential, we have a good chance."

Senior Dana Cantrell, junior Ruth Hawkinson and sophomore Kirsten Bjork are set to join Kraybill, Witt and Ross in Bellingham, with the final spot still up for grabs. Sophomore Nicole Seana, freshman Kara Richard and sophomore Candy Owens are all possibilities for the final spot, and Heritage made it clear that there could be some changes to the roster depending on the health status of the women.

Although the women’s team has a better chance than the men’s team, hopes are high that the men can pull off an upset and go to Slippery Rock. According to Heritage, "The men’s team is getting better each meet."

Senior Nick Glancy says that all the runners have been having good runs, but never at the same time. "If everyone could run well at the same time, I like our chances," Glancy said.

The team’s best hope rests on junior Nathanael Castle. The pressure doesn’t bother Castle, though. "It’s not a burden at all being the best hope," Castle said.

The rest of the team supports Castle. Castle will "give his all, whether there’s pressure to succeed or not. He’s just a talented and spirited runner," Glancy said.

Qualifying for nationals is not the only motivation for the men’s team. The team seems to hold a slight grudge against Seattle University and St. Martin’s University. "We feel we’re better than those teams but they keep barely beating us," Glancy said.

In addition, several of the men are seniors, and none of them want to finish with a loss. "Glancy and Zach Grice are graduating this year, and neither of them is on the track team, so this is their last shot. They really want a great race," head coach Doris Heritage said.

The men’s team probably will not be changed. Castle, Glancy, Grice, senior Neal Fryett, sophomore Tim Marston, freshman Aaron Libadisos and junior Scott Van Hess are set to run.

The meet starts at 10:30 a.m.

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Title: Optimism high for regionals | Author: Nathan Fluger | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2001-10-31 | Internal ID: 2251