New coach sets pace for runners

Five seniors will lead the Tabor College cross-country program this fall. Pictured are (from left) Hannah Holmes, Phillip Magos, Garrett Daugherty, Joel Allen and Jessica Vix.
Five seniors will lead the Tabor College cross-country program this fall. Pictured are (from left) Hannah Holmes, Phillip Magos, Garrett Daugherty, Joel Allen and Jessica Vix.
For the Tabor College cross-country team and first-year coach Eric Schwab, the 2014 season is all about potential.

With a mix of returning and new talent, Schwab said it will be fun to watch his athletes develop over the course of the season.

The Bluejay men boast five returning runners this season, led by national-qualifying seniors Joel Allen and Garrett Daugherty.

?They are both team captains, so they bring a lot of leadership qualities to the team, as well as their athleticism,? Schwab said. ?They should be some of our top runners.?

Three additional athletes return: senior Phillip Magos, junior Bret Mueller and sophomore Josh Richert.

The Bluejays? sole newcomer is junior transfer Tyler Parrish.

?When you only have six people, I would say everyone?s a key,? Schwab said.

Despite being small in number, the men bring experience and talent. Schwab expects positive things from them this season.

?There?s several upperclassmen on the team, so it?s not a young team, and they have a lot of experience,? he said. ?They did a good job with their summer training, so they should have a very good season.?

A challenge the team will face this season is keeping everyone healthy.

?Trying to get six guys into peak form without losing any to injury is not easy,? Schwab said. ?It?s a challenge. It can be done, but there?s no guarantees.?

Avoiding injury is crucial if the squad is to maintain a full team of five.

?Trying to keep the team healthy?and at the same time getting everyone to reach their full potential?that will be a challenge.?

Like the men, the women?s team features six athletes; however, the women will be considerably younger.

The Bluejays lost All-KCAC athlete and national qualifier Brielle Lund, who was the conference champion last season.

Leading the way this season will be returning senior Hannah Holmes.

?(Hannah) should be our top runner,? Schwab said. ?She brings four years of experience and a lot of leadership qualities to the team.?

Senior Jessica Vix also returns.

New to cross country this season are junior Allie Jost and sophomore Katey White?sell.

?(Allie?s) never run (competitively) before,? Schwab said. ?She?s been on campus here, but has never run before. Katey was on the track team last year but not the cross-country team. She?ll be one of our top runners.?

Two freshmen complete the team: Paula Young and Kaylee Schmidt.

Schwab said both will develop over time.

?We?ll see a lot of development in the women?s team this year,? he said. ?They?re going to do a lot of improving throughout the year.?

A challenge will be lack of experience.

?We don?t have the years of running on the women?s team like we have on the men?s team,? Schwab said. ?In distance running, it sure helps to run for a few years.?

KCAC competition

Schwab listed the Univer?sity of Saint Mary and South?western as top conference teams to watch, but he said his focus has been more on fielding full teams of his own.

?There might be four or five strong teams,? he said. ?I just don?t know.

?I?ve just been concerned about trying to get a scoring team for us. We can?t change the competition anyway in this sport. All we can do is our very best.?

Schwab?s goals for athletes on both teams include reaching their full potential and peaking at the right time.

?My goals are always the same,? he said. ?Basically, it comes down to trying to place as high as you can in the conference championship.?

Schwab is looking forward to the season.

?It?s going to be a rewarding year,? he said. ?It?s going to be fun to watch people develop and see where we end up.?

Tabor is scheduled to open the season Saturday at the JK Gold Classic in Augusta.