Category Archives: Cross Country

Mental toughness and team unity bond Eagles cross country

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by Shelby Eden
Assistant Sports Editor

As fallen leaves and crisp winter air take over the Minnesota landscape, the University of Northwestern — St. Paul’s men’s and women’s cross country teams wrap up their 2016 running campaigns. Along with developing themselves as runners, as the season progressed, the men and women focused largely on practicing mental toughness and creating team unity.

image_handler-5In late August, the cross-country teams kick started their seasons by traveling to Camp Shamineau in Motely, Minnesota, for a weekend of relaxation and team-building activities. The team retreat featured challenging games and activities that prompted the teams to work together, creating greater unity for both the moment and for the rest of the season.

Wil Maki, junior captain of the men’s team stated, “It was awesome to see our team come together to overcome the obstacle courses and other challenges. We also had a blast on their high ropes course, where I think everyone was surprised at what they could do.”

Lisa Greenslade, a senior leader for the Eagles added, “I know the retreat at the beginning of the season was a highlight and there were a lot of great memories made.”

As the season progressed, the men’s team faced challenges regarding player injuries and sickness. For example, because of these setbacks, the Eagles could send just six runners to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh meet on Sept. 30 while most programs sent seven men. With just seven total runners on the 2016 roster, compared to last year’s 12, the men had to push through pain in order to compete as a team and place at events.

“We are low on numbers this year so this means our depth is basically non-existent. To really compete, we need every guy at full strength,” said Maki. “Unfortunately, we ran into illness for quite a few guys, including myself, early on in the season. Each race others would have to step up to fill those holes, but again, I think it was something that made us more mature.”

With 16 runners, the women’s team did not face depth challenges but struggled early on with developing confidence individually and as a team. As the season went on, though, the women began to establish this confidence through emphasizing the importance of unity and mental toughness.

“I think our team is a lot more mentally tough since the beginning of the season,” explained Greenslade. “I have enjoyed seeing each and every girl improve and build a confidence in their abilities.”

She added, “All of us have pushed each other in practices and races to be the best that we can be, and that unity is something that is irreplaceable.”

In addition to becoming stronger athletes mentally, the teams improved their running capabilities as well. Facing undesirable, muddy conditions, the women’s team had one of their best outings of the year on Oct. 15 at Crown College. The meet featured many personal records for the women and a boost of conference heading into the conference championship as the team placed third out of five teams.

Greenslade said, “For a lot of the girls, the last meet at Crown was the most successful. The girls persevered despite the rough conditions of deep mud and puddles. Some even lost their spikes during the race!”

image_handler-4On the men’s side, Maki praised his team’s effort at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire’s Blugold invite on Sept. 30. Although the Eagles placed fourteenth out of 15 teams, many of the runners picked up personal bests, which gave the team added momentum.

“Meets like that help to push the team forward. It brings excitement back to the training because you can see it working,” said Maki. “I was very excited to see some of our guys step up in their racing ability and it makes me more confident in our abilities going into the conference race.”

Along with building up one another through trying times during the season, the men’s and women’s runners strived to encourage and respect their competition and display Christ-like behavior in practice, meets, and everyday life.

“Whether we win or lose, our goal is the same,” said Maki. “We want to be salt and light to those around us and at the end of the day people would know that there is something different about us, and that is that we serve Jesus.”

The teams also came to understand the importance of giving any of their doubts and stressors to God in order to run free for His glory.

“In college and in life in general, there seems to be a lot of stress and anxiety that can build up and keep us from what we are trying to do,” said Greenslade. “It is important to give those things to God and to focus on what He has for us and our goals, instead of the worry that drags us down.”

Men’s cross country flies through races in personal best times

By Daniel Appel

The University of Northwestern men’s cross country season is nearing their season’s finish line. The beginning of the Eagle’s season was marked by some stand-out performances by individual runners, but came up short in overall team place in several of the meets.

However, the team has kept a positive attitude towards the beginning of their season.

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FCA forming on campus

FCA is a great way for athletes to connect and grow in their faith (photo by Andy Haagenson).

FCA is a great way for athletes to connect and grow in their faith (photo by Andy Haagenson).

 by Allison Morehead

The University of Northwestern – St. Paul has officially created its own campus chapter of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). FCA is a nationwide organization that brings athletes together to worship and grow in their faith.

“I’m so excited for FCA to be coming to campus,” said freshman Kelsey Freitag.

FCA student leader Sara Kallhoff said, “It’s a time where student athletes can come together, talk and grow closer to the Lord through our connection of sports.”

Zach Filzen, the women’s basketball assistant coach, is working with FCA along with a student leader, Jake Knotek. Filzen and Knotek were the ones credited with the original idea of bringing FCA to UNW.

Knotek said, “He (Filzen) and I were just talking about FCA one day and realized the need and potential for it, so God put it on our hearts to go for it.  We realized that there really isn’t much unity among the Eagle athletes, and we often think we have enough spiritual fillers going on in our lives.  I know I could always use more.”

This will be the first FCA in Northwestern’s history. “I think in the past people haven’t felt a need for FCA since each sports team does their own devotionals within the team, and there are so many other ways to get involved,” explained Filzen.

Students will now have the opportunity to join a sports-related organization without the requirement of being involved in a Northwestern sport. FCA is open to anyone who is involved in a sport, or who has a love for sports.

Filzen stated, “Spread the word and come to the meeting with some friends.”

The first meeting will be held on Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Ericksen Center.  There will be games, worship, small groups and a message.  Food will be provided.

For further information, students can follow the University of Northwestern – St. Paul FCA group on Twitter at @FCA_UNW or like its Facebook page.

Athlete profile: Senior Sammy Wong

by Katie Peterson

Sammy Wong, senior at University of Northwestern St – Paul, has been running on the cross country team since 2010.  This season, Wong and her teammates have been practicing very hard, putting in long hours and many miles.  “All of this hard work has paid off,” Sammy said because “the race times have been getting faster and faster as the season is progressing.”

Wong has been having a great season so far with a personal record of 26:10 in a 6K at the St. Olaf Invitational on Sept. 21.  She is hoping to set another personal record at the Blugold Invitational on Oct. 4.

She says that her biggest supporters are her parents because they love her no matter what and always encourage her.   Even though the competition from other schools in our conference, such as St. Scholastica, may be strong, Sammy leads the women’s team by displaying a cheerful spirit.  Before each race, the women always pray together, and she thinks that this kind of prayerful attitude helps her team run the best that it can. 

Eagle cross country team focused on the race

by Hannah Haegele
Assistant Sports Editor

The University of Northwestern – Saint Paul cross country teams are ready to take the season by storm. This year both the womens’ and mens’ teams have many storylines to watch for. Through hours of tough summer and fall workouts, Eagle runners have been getting into tip-top shape in hopes of achieving their personal and team goals as they grow together.

Junior Ariel Andrews discussed the type of community that the cross country teams have. “Although most teams say they’re like family, I feel that cross-country teams really are like a family because we encourage each other to grow spiritually, emotionally and physically.”

In Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) preseason polls, the Eagle women are slated to come in the fourth place spot, but the team has set its sights high. The mens’ team graduated two valuable seniors last season. However it is looking to rebuild this year and is projected to be in the seventh spot in the UMAC preseason poll.

The season began for both teams on Aug. 30 at the Early Bird Triangular and will wind through courses across the area until it finishes up with the UMAC championships and the regional finals. Early season highlights included the women’s team taking first place in the Early Bird Triangular and Nick Krinkie making his UNW cross country debut with a first place finish in the 5K race. His time was 18:20.17. With a successful start to the season, the Eagles had UMAC opponent’s heads turning.

There are 10 members in the roster on the women’s side, including senior captain Samantha Wong. Wong is the lone senior on the team, but also returning is Sara Brook. At the heart of the team’s depth are the eight newcomers on the team: Ariel Andrews, Alyssa Arends, Lisa Grennslade, Emma Kelby, Mariah Long, Allison Morehead, Maria Olson and Abby Swanson.

On the men’s side of things, the Eagles have three lone runners Nick Krinkie, Isaac Shay and Jordan Barnes. In charge of both teams is head coach Steve Thiessen.

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