The future is bright for Lawrence Cross Country. After a team victory last Saturday at Concordia University, where all of Lawrence’s top five runners placed in top 20 finishers, the women’s team edged its way into becoming a Top-10 Midwest Region ranked team and joined the list of renowned programs such as Washington University in St. Louis, North Central and Wheaton College. The men’s team also competed at Concordia and finished fifth out of thirteen teams.
Concordia’s course along the shores of Lake Michigan proved to be the perfect setting for the Vikings to show what they are capable of. “This is a meet that we all look forward to,” said senior Clare Bruning. “We are coming off of some hard weeks of practice, and we are excited to get back into the season.” Bruning went on to take 2nd in the six-kilometer race with a time of 23:44, followed closely by sophomore Erin Schrobilgen in fifth with a time of 24:28.
The key to the women’s team victory was excellent pack running with Bruning and Schrobilgen leading the race together in the first mile and a very tight spread between the other Viking top five finishers. In a meet of over 70 runners, five top 20 finishers is certainly no small feat. By beating number eight ranked UW- Steven’s Point, Lawrence surged ahead to number 10 in the Midwest Region rankings, arguably one of the most competitive regions in the nation.
The men’s team also finished towards the top of a very competitive field in the eight-kilometer race. The men were led by freshmen Josh Janusiak in 9th with a time of 27:13 and Ben Schaefer in 25th at 28:18. The men ran well; however, they are expected to out-do their performance next week with the return of junior standout Max Edwards who did not race last weekend.
Looking ahead, the Lawrence Cross Country team continues to work hard in practice, to push their abilities to the limit. After a high mileage and endurance-testing summer, the team is now gearing their workouts to transfer their superior endurance to speed for their six and eight kilometer races. The Vikings also keep a tight camaraderie with one another when not running. “We bond outside of practice together,” said Bruning. “This translates to the course where we can push each other to go even faster.”
Another key component to a successful season for the Vikings will be the development of the freshmen. The team welcomes four freshman men and four women who have the challenge of adjusting to longer races and the college level competition. With freshmen runners Janusiak and Schaefer, as well as Mayan Essak and Sierra Polzin, already finishing in the Viking top five, this development seems to be right on track.
The Vikings have set the bar high for themselves this season. As their hard work during pre-season workouts becomes apparent through their results on the course, a top conference finish at the end of the season is certainly not out of the question. “I don’t want to speak too soon,” said Bruning, “but we will be a force to be reckoned with.”