Cross country takes off in full stride

September 24, 2013 | 4 p.m.

Lead by captain Matt Berens, team wins first meet

Sports | Michael Urch

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Above, members of the small but dedicated men's cross country team warm up before the race. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Sports Information

The cross-country season is now in full stride, and the team is off to a good start. Both the men’s and women’s teams finished first in their first meet, and it looks as though there is a lot of potential for growth on the team.

“We started off really well,” said coach Jim Timp.

Matt Berens, junior and captain, finished first for the men in the Augsburg College Quadrangular, crossing the finish line 62 seconds before second place.

Although the men and women form two different teams, Timp considers them one, with both teams meeting together daily and warming up together. Both teams are finding success in this young season, taking first place in their respective opening meets.

“It was good to see how good we could potentially be,” said Tera Hereid, women’s captain. “We are small, but we are mighty.”

The women’s team is seventeen strong and the men’s team has fourteen runners, which is small compared to their compeition.

“Because we are a smaller team, we have been closer this year,” captain Luke Rustad said.

“I’ve really seen a lot of the guys step it up, and a lot of the freshman are motivated,” Berens said.

The team relies on a pack running strategy. In cross-country, the score is calculated by place. First place is worth one point, second is worth two, etc. The team with the lowest score wins. In order to keep a low score, it is important for every runner on the team to place well. One runner cannot carry the team very far. Having a group of runners in a pack helps to displace the runners on other teams, as well as accomplish a low score.

“Being with a pack you can really encourage people,” Rustaad said.

“If it weren’t for the pack running that we did we would not have won those races,” Timp added. “I think that [pack running] is going to be the key to our success this year.”

This year, Timp is aided by two assistant coaches: John Spencer and Zach Haskins. Spencer is a seminary student who has running experience in his past, and Haskins is a former Bethel student who, according to the team, has been a big part of the team's success this season.

Being a part of the cross-country team goes beyond running performance. The team spent a week in Grand Marais training and building up morale. They were able to get to know each other better, and began to care about each other more deeply.

“Running fast is going to take care of itself because we have that bond that is created now. That love for one another is going to create a really good team,” Timp said. “Our basic philosophy is that no matter where you are on the team or how fast you are, everybody adds to the success of the team.”

Both teams are preparing for the Griak Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 21, on the Les Bolstad Golf Course, and they are looking to pack up for another win.

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