Cross-country preview: running for a successful season


Alex Karas

Christopher Ramos, freshman dentistry major, keeps the pace at the St. Francis Twilight Invite 5k on Sept. 2.

Cross-country kicked off to a solid start with their first meet, the Northwest Classic 5K.

Leading the way for their teams were Alex Cordova, senior biology major, who placed second out of 32 runners and Kyleigh Werner, sophomore nursing major, who placed second out of 29 runners. The PNW Pride finished in second place with 49 points, losing first place to Grace College.

Stephanie Beck, head coach for the women’s and men’s cross-country teams, said that this first meet was stronger in mileage and health than last year’s first meet.

“My overall opinion with the Northwest Classic has me excited. I believe that overall we are in a great spot with room for improvement,” Beck said.

Beck said an issue that needs improving is consistency and preventing the runners from starting out too fast.

“The biggest issue we have had was keeping mileage and workouts consistent and getting ourselves to race properly and negative split throughout the race rather than start out too fast. We have some aggressive runners that like to get out too fast, and we’re trying to pace ourselves better for a stronger finish,” Beck said.

Beck has high expectations for her and the team. Primarily, Beck intends to continue bettering her runners’ lives.

“My expectations for this team are high, not because we are all competitors necessarily, but also because we have some raw talent that is just only going to get better. As far as expectations for myself, I expect for me to be prepared and to get these runners to improve every day, in academics, athletics and in life and for them to respond like I know they’re capable of doing,” Beck said.

Dustin Pluard, senior communication major, agreed with Beck that the team will be nothing but successful this season and overall. He notes that despite him and Alex Cordova leaving, the team will continue to accomplish great things.

“This season will go amazing. We got a lot of good freshmen that have come in and will accomplish great things. This will be a great year for us, and our team will only continue to improve. After this year, we will only lose two people, Alex, who is a key member, and then me, so the majority of our team will still be here and it’ll be cool to see how much they grow,” Pluard said.

Pluard suffered from injuries that almost ended his running career and admitted to being in a bad place.

“I’m just excited to run again. At one point I almost tore my IT band, and that would have ended my running career. I have gotten hurt the past few years, and last year I came as close to rock bottom mentally as someone can be and I wanted to give up running, but I had a breakthrough and now I’m hoping to regain a sliver of my high school self. I’m happy and ready to run for fun,” Pluard said.

Pluard also aspires to be a better role model for the team and a leader that is there to support them.

“For the past few years I haven’t been a role model for the team, but now being a senior I hope to just be an example for others and to remember to have fun. I won’t actually score any points for the team, but hopefully I can encourage and push others. I’m hoping to be a true senior leader and be more involved,” Pluard said.

Beck affirmed that her team has what it takes to accomplish their goals.

“I am excited for this team, overall. We have a phenomenal group this year that is capable of accomplishing things that our program has not in the past. These kids make it easy to wake up at 5 am every day. We’re hoping to be at least top five in conference and have some national qualifiers again. In order to do this, we just need to continue what we are and stay focused until November. The rest will fall into place,” Beck said.

The women’s and men’s cross-country teams had their second meet, the St. Francis Twilight 5K, on Sept. 2. The women’s team placed sixth place and the men’s team placed fifth place. Emma Weissback, freshman business major, and Salvador Cordova, junior mathematics major, both placed first for their teams. The cross-country teams’ next meet will be on Sept. 16 for the Indiana Intercollegiate Championships in Bloomington, Indiana.