Written by Katie Morford Tuesday, 28 August 2012 13:29
Three national qualifiers on the Tabor College men’s and women’s cross-country teams will set a fast pace and raise expectations for the 2012 season.
“It’s very exciting to see how well they’re doing and to be anticipating how well they can do,” coach Dan Swaney said. “I’m excited to see how the season goes.”
Men—National qualifiers Joel Allen and Jacob Heil are expected to lead the men this year.
Allen, who is near the top of the conference as a sophomore, set the school record last season and will look to improve on that time this fall.
No. 2 runner Jacob Heil, a senior who comes back as the eighth-ranked returner in the KCAC, also hopes to qualify for nationals again.
“He has brought a lot of leadership to the group and helped the guys focus and become more of a group,” Swaney said. “He’ll be key.”
Third on the team will be sophomore Garrett Daugherty, who, like Allen, made his mark during his first season at Tabor.
“Having them as sophomores, and having run so well already, is really nice,” Swaney said. He hopes Daugherty will break the 27-minute mark this year for a the 8-kilometer (4.97 miles) course.
Taking over the No. 4 spot from Dylan Crawford, who transferred out, will be Sky Chapman, who ran cross country for Hutchinson Community College.
“He came here because he wants to do ministry as a major and continuing competing, so he’s going to fill a hole for us,” Swaney said.
Chapman is expected to run under 27 minutes this season, as he has been running similar times to Daugherty.
Rounding out the top five will be either sophomore Phillip Magos, who currently is out with an injury, or junior Nathan Vogel.
“Phillip should be our fifth, when healthy and in shape, but Nathan has been doing really well this summer and so he may make a huge jump,” Swaney said.
“We’ve got a good strong group, and we only need five to score, so having a group of six who can contribute on a weekly basis will be nice. It gives us a bit of a safety net.”
The men’s team, which finished third in the conference last year, hopes the additional speed will move the Bluejays up a spot in the conference.
But powerhouse Southwestern, which was nationally ranked last year and returns all but one runner, is the favorite for the top spot.
“The men’s team should be at least as good as last year, if not better,” Swaney said of his athletes.
The Bluejays will test their mettle Sept. 1 when they begin their season at the JK Gold Classic at Augusta.
Women—Expect to see significant improvement from the women’s squad this season, as top KCAC returner and national qualifier Brielle Lund is back for her junior season.
“Brielle is the fastest returner in the conference and has been running well,” Swaney said.
“I think she’s got a good shot at making a big improvement, perhaps even more than she made from her freshman year to last year, and that was a big jump.”
He hopes that improvement will take her from being competitive at a conference level to competing at a national level, perhaps even finishing among the top 80 at nationals.
Sophomore Hannah Holmes is expected to claim the No. 2 spot for Tabor and is the eighth-fastest returner in the conference, up from a 19-place finish in the KCAC meet last season.
“It’s nice to see that she has moved up just from people graduating and leaving,” Swaney said. “She ran a lot over the summer and I expect that she’ll be able to make a pretty sizable improvement.”
Third in the lineup will be incoming freshman Ashley Kemling, who is expected to post times close to Holmes’.
Junior Makenzie King will take the fourth spot after sitting out last year.
“I thought she would run fairly well, and she’s actually doing better than I had hoped for,” Swaney said. “So that may be a very pleasant surprise. She may be a lot closer to Hannah and Ashley than I had counted on. And if that happens, that will really help us move up in the conference.”
Completing the top five will be Kristen Harris, a Cloud County Community College transfer who is a newcomer to cross country but has run middle distances in track.
“With more sustained training, hopefully she can shave a couple more minutes off and we could, potentially, have our fifth runner this year faster than our third runner last year,” Swaney said.
“That would be a huge improvement on the women’s side as well.”
The women’s team will test their new lineup when the Bluejays compete Sept. 1 at the JK Gold Classic at Augusta.