New coach to lead Tabor runners

These athletes comprise the Tabor College cross-country team this season: front row (from left) assistant coach Brielle Lund, Katey Whitesell, Kelsey Nitzsche, Maggie Ramirez, Lindsay Crist, Julie Loewen, Emily Kemling, head coach Joel Allen; (back row) Riley Ballou-Lyngstad, Austin Weaver, Avery Franz, Josh Richert, Thomas Bacon, Adam Burum.The Tabor College cross-country program will be under new leadership this fall. First-year coach Joel Allen, a 2015 Tabor graduate, is the fourth coach to guide the program in as many years.

MEN—Senior Josh Richert is Tabor’s only male returner. Richert finished 44th in the 8-k at the KCAC championships in 2015.

“(Josh) has matured a lot throughout his time here,” Allen said. “He’s had a pretty decent summer.”

Two upperclassmen join the team for the first time. Senior Thomas Bacon, a member of the Bluejay basketball and track and field teams, joins the cross-country program this season.

Junior Avery Franz, a former high school teammate of Allen’s at Hillsboro, also joins the program for the first time.

“We’ve only have six people on the team so it was important for me to add depth if I could,” Allen said. “Avery was someone that came to mind.”

Three incoming freshmen complete the team. Adam Burum comes to Tabor from Ridge Point High School (Texas).

“I think that it’ll be awhile before he really rises up in the ranks of the KCAC, but I think he’ll be a solid addition,” Allen said.

Riley Ballou-Lyngstad is a graduate of Bonner Springs High School. “He’s talented and he’s passionate,” Allen said. “He’ll be a solid contributor and a good person to have around.”

Austin Weaver, from Hess­ton, completes the team. “Austin has a real passion for the sport and really wants to get better,” Allen said. “We just have to get him to the point where he’s a little bit stronger.”

In the preseason poll, the Tabor men were selected to repeat as seventh-place finishers. Saint Mary swept the top six individual finishes a year ago.

Women—Sophomore returner Julie Loewen represents the Bluejays on the 2016 preseason team. Last season, Loewen was Tabor’s highest finisher in the women’s 5-k KCAC race. Her time of 20:17.3 was good for 14th among a field of 90.

“I think that she’s ready to take a pretty big step forward,” Allen said. “We’ll lean heavily on her.”

Returning senior Katey Whitesell will be looked to for leadership. Last year, Whitesell was 50th (21:55.5) in the KCAC race.

“(Katey’s) also very talented,” Allen said.

Tabor’s second senior, Maggie Ramirez, returns after placing 56th in the KCAC.

“(Maggie) really is passionate about giving you everything she’s got,” Allen said.

Three newcomers join the team this season. Sophomore Kelsey Nitzsche is a walk-on this season.

“She’s a little bit of a wild card because we just don’t know how good she’s going to be this year, but her mileage and her summer, I think, have gone pretty well.”

Two freshmen complete the team: Emily Kemling from Perkins County High School (Neb.) and Lindsay Crist out of Lincoln High School (Kan.).

“They both really have a passion for running, and I think they’re just going to be a joy to coach,” Allen said.

In the preseason poll, Tabor was selected to repeat as 11th-place finishers at the KCAC meet.

“We need to be shooting for top half of the conference,” he said. “We’re talented enough. We’re experienced enough.”

Tabor will open the season at the Bearcat Open in Maryville, Mo., Friday. The Bluejays will host an invitational meet Sept. 23.

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