Men’s and women’s cross-country look to capture National Championships
Courtesy Photo / Dean Breest
Senior Stephen Fuelling was named the GLIAC Cross Country Athlete of the Year after winning the championship in a time of 24:22.0.
Fans might not recognize the Lakers cross-country teams if you take the 500-mile trip to Joplin, Mo. this Saturday to watch the NCAA Division II National Championships.
Not that the teams are going to be making drastic personnel changes, but both men’s and women’s teams will be donning the all-white uniforms at the national championships.
White is something that has become a tradition over the last decade.
“We wear all black throughout the season,” said head coach Jerry Baltes. “Going with the all-white uniforms gets the kids a little extra pumped up.”
The Lakers shouldn’t need any extra motivation, after all this is the biggest stage of the year, in which they should feel comfortable since they have made the yearly trip for more than ten-straight years.
“Many of our kids have been here before,” Baltes said. “Every one of them will know what they have to do individually when race time comes.”
On the men’s team, Junior Brent Showerman will look to continue the success he had at regionals as he came in first for the Lakers, finishing eighth overall.
“I feel confident I can carry on the success I had from regionals,” he said. “It’s not about an individual standpoint for us. If we can execute as a team and compete within a pack, we should be in good shape.”
This year’s men’s team has a combination of talent distributed between upperclassmen and underclassmen that Showerman believes is the right recipe to bring home a title.
“Throughout the year we have had multiple guys step up for us in big situations,” Showerman said. “We all feel confident to continue this on Saturday.”
Much like the men’s squad, the women’s team also will feature a variety of underclassmen and upperclassmen at the national championships.
“Our senior leadership sets the tone,” said senior Courtney Brewis. “We should without a doubt be ready and set to go when race day approaches.”
With the big stage set on Saturday, both teams will go through similar routines that they have been executing throughout the season.
“We have a pretty tight schedule following up to the race,” Showerman said. “Using the same routine throughout the year will take away from some of the nerves that come with this big race.”
Whether it’s wearing the same socks for every meet, or having the same meal prior to race day, the Lakers will use whatever tactic in their attempts to add another notch to their already impressive belt of tradition during the last decade.
The races will get started at 1 p.m. from Joplin.