By Judah Heimlich ’12
Pacific Lutheran University’s co-captain seniors Barrett Bollen and Sean Andrascik have been a part of the rebuilding of the cross-country team since their arrival at PLU.
The PLU cross-country team struggled for the last decade to become a competitive team that can make it to regionals. The team finished 9 out of 9 teams in last year’s North West Championship coming in last place. The North West Championship is one step lower than regionals.
“The last few years we have not done well on a conference level and the top runners in the (Northwest) conference are good nationwide” Bollen said. Meaning if PLU can succeed against their conference they are level with the competition of division III schools nationwide.
This year has a different feel though as PLU is set to make regionals. “We’ve gone from being last in the conference to being able to go to regionals and finishing the highest in conference since 2003” Bollen said.
“The teams front runner is sophomore Alan DenAdel. He is poised to get all conference and has been setting personal records left and right” Bollen said. DenAdel proved this by placing first overall at Linfield with a time of 26:07.51.
Bollen joined the team his freshman year in 2007 before leaving overseas with the Marine Corps for a year. He returned to PLU and has been a steady competitor for the cross-country team.
“This year has been different” Bollen said. “We have an 8-man squad and we need seven runners for each race which means everyone on the team must be able to compete.” He went on to say that by having cuts this year they have become a much more competitive team.
For Bollencross-country is really a team sport and that without Sean Andrascik the team would not be it the same place it is now. “Sean is a key figure to this team and a great leader. He always holds everyone accountable and has been a building block for this team,” Bollen said.
Making it to regionals has is just one of the goals Andrascik pointed out for the team this year. This accomplishment would be all the more rewarding because this is Andrascik’s final year at PLU. Andrascik is not just thinking about the present but also the future of the program. “Making it to regionals is a big exposure of competitors for the underclassmen and it will open up for more recruits to make them even more competitive” Andrascik said.
For Andrascik doing cross-country is all about going after that next challenge. “I went to a small highschool that did not have a cross-country team and I saw this as a new challenge to go after” Andrascik said. “Having the title of collegiate athlete is something that I wanted to get out of my college experience.”
For Andrascik it’s also about the team and praising them for doing something at Willamette the team has never done before, which is have 6 guys run under 27:30. One of the other goals team’s goals is to get every runner to hit the 27:30 mark at the same race bringing in there spread to make it as tight as possible. A spread is the time distance between each runner making the team with the fastest and tightest group better off.
With runners breaking their personal bests and the team poised for regionals Andrascik gives his coach Heather Kreier a lot of the credit for the team’s success. “The dedication that coach has put in has been great. She has put in so much time and effort into us and it’s been quite an experience being an athlete under her” Andrascik said.
While the players honor their coach she just wants people to appreciate the work they have done. “We want people to know about our upcoming race at PLU and that we are going to conference on the 29th (October) and then to regionals” Kreier said.
The PLU cross country team hosts their only home race Saturday, October 15th.
What do the guys plan on doing after the race? “After we are done we are going to go support the football team and then go to the dance so it will be a busy day for us” Andrascik said.
The North West Championship race is on October 29th at Willamette and then the West Regional Championship is on November 12th in Claremont, California.