It’s not usually one of the most-watched collegiate sports at Concordia, but the cross-country team surely deserves some attention this yer for performing well in their first meet of the season against Division I-ranked NDSU.
But the day at the Bison Open wasn’t all about times and finishes. Rather it was an environment of camaraderie, sportsmanship, and support, as demonstrated by the cross-country runners, the coaches, and their fans.
Junior Erika Nelson commented on the strength of the team, both on and off the course.
“We have a strong spirit and a strong faith-base,” Nelson said. “We help each other, encourage each other, and push each other in everything we do.”
Sophomore Brooke Schlotterback agrees.
“It’s a great community of people, and an awesome environment to be in,” Schlotterback said.
Freshman runner John Amundson, for whom this was the first college meet, said he enjoys being a part of cross-country, and would encourage other freshmen to get involved with something on campus.
“You’ll be glad you did for the rest of your life,” Amundson said.
And apparently, some do keep coming back for the rest of their lives, as demonstrated by alumni Mike Reponen and Brandon Huether, as well as by self-proclaimed super-fan and junior, Emily Wyman. The three made up a vocal and jovial cheering section, complete with a large “GO COBBERS!” banner.
Wyman, who first started following the cross-country team because her fiancé is a member, said she will travel hours to watch meets.
“I’ve been to almost every meet they’ve been in for the past two years,” said Wyman, noting that she loves the friendly atmosphere the runners and fans provide.
Reponen seconded these thoughts, saying that he enjoys the “everybody-plays mentality” of the sport, and commented that it’s a great way to get exercise, even for the fans, who have to run around the course to watch the race.
The coaches have also noticed and encouraged this close-knit, inclusive atmosphere, taking the runners on a training retreat to a resort in Park Rapids, Minn., to build up the team both physically and emotionally. The weeklong excursion involved twice-daily runs, a ropes course, and a service project with Itasca State Park.
“The prime focus was not just training, but bonding,” said men’s coach Garrick Larson.
The spirit of the team has enhanced its performance, according to the coaches, who are surprised that the members have been able to grow so close despite the large number of participants this year.
With 29 men and 40 girls participating, including a large group of freshmen, women’s coach Marv Roeske thinks this is the “deepest team we’ve had in a while,” noting the possibility for some amazing growth this season.
Members of the team have also noticed this opportunity for success and seem very excited about it.
“We’ve emphasized a lot of mileage over the summer, so the guys came in prepared,” junior Caleb Gieson said. “We’ve also been incorporating a lot of lifting. It has been said that we are the most jacked men’s team in the MIAC. We bring some muscle to the meets.”
Men’s captain Tom Sederquist, who finished first in the men’s race, also sees potential in his teammates.
“If we could really come together this year, I think we could do some damage in the MIAC,” Sederquist said.
Coaches and runners alike encourage their fellow Cobbers to get out and support the cross-country team this fall.
“Even if you don’t appreciate running, you have to appreciate how hard these kids work,” Coach Larson said.
Coach Roeske is looking forward to the next meet at St. Olaf, and also encourages any Cobbers who can to come and cheer on the runners.
“Cross country is a really tough and brutal sport—these kids deserve some support,” Roeske said. “There are no time outs, no substitutions. Once the gun goes off, there’s no turning back. You’re in it until the end.”
Sallie has held positions in The Concordian since her sophomore year as a writer in both the Sports and Pulse sections. She is now the paper’s sports editor, though she claims that she’s “not a bro,” despite her position. Sallie hopes to “grow the section” during her time as editor by including more feature and student-interest stories. Her other interests include folk art and folklore. She has a special interest in folk costumes (about which she says, “I like to make them. I like to wear them. I know too much about them.”) and sølje, traditional Norwegian jewelry , which she collects.