SPU cross country makes history

Tim LeCount and the men’s cross country team claimed unprecedented victories, and Karen Dickson won at the conference championships in California last weekend.

LeCount, a junior, became the first SPU male to win the individual event, and the men’s team also won the conference for the first time. LeCount finished the eight kilometer race in 25:58. He was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) Outstanding Performer.

This year marked the first time any SPU men’s team placed higher than fourth. With the victory, the men will move on to compete at the regional finals in Bellingham, Wash.

The men narrowly edged out Alaska-Anchorage by a score of 80-71.

"There is some great competition out of California," said Coach Doris Heritage. "The course and weather favor us, and we will be two weeks stronger by then for this longer race."

The men will have the luxury of having previously competed on the course that they will face in two weeks. The meet will be held at Lake Padden — a place where the team has already brought home a first place finish.

The second finisher for the SPU men’s team was Bjorn Bostrom (26:42). Bostrom, a sophomore, and LeCount were the only two SPU men to earn the all-conference distinction (top 10 finish). Trailing them were freshman Brian Cronrath (26:52), senior Paul Mach (27:08) and sophomore Doug Gibson (27:15). Gibson was named GNAC Newcomer-of-the-Year.

Heritage mentioned that all of the runners ran well in California.

For the women’s team, sophomore Karen Dickson has been highly successful in her sophomore campaign at SPU. She continues unbeaten this year by any collegiate runner. Dickson led for most of the six kilometer race and finished in 22:28. She was also named GNAC Outstanding Performer.

Dickson became the seventh SPU woman in the last nine years to win the individual crown, and she will continue on to compete at regionals.

"Karen can go a long ways," Heritage said. "She has as good a chance as anyone in the race … We believe she is the one to watch."

Dickson was never really challenged throughout the race, which was held at a Beau Pre golf course. The second place finisher came in 37 seconds after Dickson. The first place finish is a big improvement over last season. Dickson finished in 32nd position last year.

The women came into the competition looking to defend their title from last year, but a valiant effort came up short. Central Washington University eclipsed the women 67-74.

All-conference finishers for the women included Dickson, freshman Karin Rohde and junior Becky Knox. Rohde finished seventh with 23:57 and was named Freshman-of-the-Year. Knox placed eighth with a time of 24:03.

The fourth and fifth scorers for SPU were junior Tracy Kuhn (25:15) and freshman Kaitlin Rohde (25:32).

Both teams are very young and should be competitive for years to come. The women’s team has already established themselves as a power in the GNAC, but for the men’s team this is uncharted territory. Coach Heritage is excited for what the young team can accomplish in the future.

Heritage also admires the attitude that the men bring with them to the team. "I believe the guys are helping young runners to look beyond scholarships and focus on what counts in their education," said Heritage.

Heritage gives Mach and LeCount the credit for starting that attitude with the team, and she hopes that the younger members will continue to build upon that success in competition and in their educations.

SPU will send athletes to compete in the Bellevue Community College Invitational next Saturday at Lake Sammamish.

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Title: SPU cross country makes history | Author: Grant Ludwick | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2004-10-27 | Internal ID: 4147