The Pacific University Women’s Cross Country team was voted to finish first in the Northwest Conference preseason coaches poll. The men’s cross country team is also looking to battle for the top 3 spots in the conference and with their current achievements they do not plan to fall back.
In preparation for this 2021 season, head cross country coach Bailee Cofer provided the team with a new perspective: when nothing is sure, everything is possible. With an increase of expectations after the cancellation of the last two seasons, Cofer wished for her runners to be genuinely prepared in practice as well as their performance.
“My main message to the team was that we don’t know when we’re going to get to compete again,” said Cofer. “But when it comes, you gotta be ready, and we’re going to be ready.”
Both teams were eager to compete when it finally came time. Despite the hardships, it encouraged the team to improve themselves.
Riley Stewart, a 5th-year senior at Pacific, also known as the team’s number one runner this season is not holding anything back for his final cross country season. Stewart ran his record for the 8k at 25:21 at the PLU invite.
“There was a period where it was hard to stay motivated, it was a time of uncertainty”, said Stewart.
Kara Putman, another Pacific senior and the team captain for the women’s team brought the heat in her first competitive 6k since 2019. Putman placed second overall in the 6km run and represented her team in the overall win.
“The win gave us a boost of confidence in our ability as a team,” said Putman. “The energy has carried over in practices and races since. I hope that our team will continue to train smart and use each race opportunity to improve.”
The Pacific University Cross Country team is off to a promising start and a team that should be watched. The team looks to continue on their road to conference champs on October 16th at the Lewis and Clark Invitational. — Ginae Borja-Johnson