First time in eight years, x-country team compete in the NorthWest Conference . . at home!
For the first time in eight years, Pacific University is hosting the Cross-Country Northwest Conference Championships at home and, as has become the men’s and women’s cross-country team season-long motto, it’s time to put the hay in the barn.
With 5:45 am practices—and commonly with double days—the Boxer men’s and women’s cross-country team has logged 100s of miles, and it is time to cross the final finish line, and they hope to do so at the front of the pack.
By coincidence, the team has raced every other weekend this season; with both men’s and women’s teams scoring the lowest spread between the top five since Head Coach Bailee Krings came to the program in 2018. How the individuals place is crucial because the teams are scored off the point system; similar to golf, the lowest score wins. Meaning, a good performance by one runner won’t win the conference for the team. To win the conference, the men’s and women’s teams will need to move up in a group, not just individually.
“We need to have that whole group move up, keeping teammates close together, but further up in the race,” described Coach Krings.
“My goal for conference championships is for the group to race consistently while performing under pressure,” exemplified Coach Krings. “I want to see them have the same competitive mindset and execute the race plan without freaking out that it is conference.”
For cross-country athletes, this one race has the opportunity to showcase the hard work of their entire season, or make for a bitter ending if they perform poorly.
Last year at Conference Championships, the men’s team finished fourth overall and graduated their two front runners. Coach Krings hopes the young team can pull off a similar position again this year, with some of the runners who have stepped up. The men’s team grown a lot over the past few months and has had a consistent season, but realistically, they are not going for the Conference Champion Title. Instead, looking to keep improving as a team and record some records as a team.
But for the women, the goal is to win, win, win. Last year the team finished second overall last season behind still their biggest competitor, George Fox University, which they have been competing close with all season. Now, Coach Krings wants to see the team put themselves in a position to win the whole thing from the start, which means staying mentally strong throughout the race and believing they can win.
“My goal for them is to put up a fight and make it a race,” explained Coach Krings. “However it falls, if we are first or second, it will be okay as long as they raced to win.” He went on to declare, “If George Fox is going to beat us, let’s make them work for it.”
The Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships will be held at Killarney West Golf Course in Hillsboro on Saturday, October 29. The women compete in the 6k race at 10 am, and the men compete in the 8k race at 11 am. — Emily Rutkowski