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PNW Pioneer

Cross-country preview: Sprinting for success

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The women’s cross-country team is aiming to improve under first-year head coach Austin Warner, and the members are interested in seeing what impact the five incoming runners will have on the upcoming season.

Four freshmen have been added to the roster: Lucy Appleman, Samantha Chappell, Jennifer Crague and Allison Tokarz along with Rachel Gregory, a senior who played soccer at PNW for three years.

Warner believes the newcomers will have a positive impact on the season but that the number of newcomers may also be the team’s weakness.

“Our biggest weakness currently is probably our youth. We are returning with only three returners from last year’s squad and the other five newcomers are all in their first collegiate cross-country season. However, the newcomers bring in a lot of enthusiasm and talent, which will greatly help our team this season,” Warner said.

Warner set high goals for the runners to help them achieve success for the season.  

“Each runner on this team has a goal to run her personal best time this season. If each individual puts in the required work for that to happen, we can upset a few teams at the conference championships this year and of course set the program record for the team average 5k time,” Warner said.

Sara Kubas, junior, is excited to see how much the team will grow by the end of the year. Since Kubas is one of the older members, she’s more interested in being a mentor for the younger runners.

“The biggest thing I look forward to is being a role model for the younger student-athletes on our women’s cross-country team,” Kubas said. “There are going to be challenges throughout this season and semester, whether it be in the classroom or our meets, and I’m excited to see our team overcome those challenges and achieve our goals. We are a strong but new team and I’m excited to see the growth and progress at the end of our season.”

Warner said the competition at the NCAA Division II level will be a challenge, but the team will be prepared for the competitors if the runners keep to their strategy.

“If this team takes care of themselves from a health perspective and continues to motivate and look out for each other, they will shatter the program record for the total team time for the 5000m. In regards to the conference championships, we are hoping to surprise a few teams who are projected to beat us this year and give us a solid start as we enter NCAA Division II competition,” Warner said.

The women’s cross-country team will have its first meet on Sept. 1 for the St. Francis Invitational in Joliet, Illinois.

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