Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cross Country runs hard at Panorama

McDonald places ninth for men, Christiansen 30th for women to pace their teams at the invitational

The men and women’s cross country teams put together a respectable performance in a very competitive race Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Virginia-Panorama Farms Invitational.

In a field of 13 teams, which included Duke, North Carolina, Auburn and Virginia Tech, Liberty held its own. Finishing with a team time of 2:01:58.5, the men took sixth place in the 8k. The women finished with a team time of 1:35:01.3, which was good enough for 12th in the competition.

BREAKING A SWEAT — The women’s team looks to mature and improve as the season progresses. Photo credit: Joel Coleman

BREAKING A SWEAT — The women’s team looks to mature and improve as the season progresses. Photo credit: Joel Coleman

“We had a solid performance and got a good indication of what it will take for our men to make it to nationals” Head Coach Brant Tolsma said. “Josh McDonald and Jacy (Christiansen) had excellent races in leading the team. Several athletes ran personal bests.”

McDonald, who finished ninth overall in the men’s race, and Christiansen, who finished 30th overall in the women’s, will be key pieces of the cross country puzzle this year. The two juniors look to lead a very young team to success. The men’s team includes six sophomores this year, while the women’s team has 14 freshmen.

“With young runners, one can’t help but wonder who will embrace their opportunities and who will the Lord use to help raise the level of the program,” Tolsma said. “Part of representing the Lord well is excellence, and excellence starts with an attitude.”

For the men, the top three runners on the day were McDonald (ninth), senior Caleb Edmonds (21st) and sophomore Jeremie Bourget (28th). McDonald’s time of 23:59.3 beat the personal best of 24:45.7 he set at the Charlotte Invitation in 2011.

Bourget, who is one of six sophomores on the team, has an opportunity to lead the program to new heights. Upperclassmen Zach Barker, Jarred Cornfield, Edmonds, Jones and McDonald also have the responsibility of readying the young runners to advance the program in the coming years.

The women have a similar future. Leading the charge is Christiansen, who ran a personal best of 17:58.2 in
the 5k.

Christiansen is one of just nine upperclassmen on the 24-athlete women’s roster. As with the men’s team, the ladies have an opportunity to help mature young runners and build the program in a way they would not be able to do through individual times.

“We do look foremost for success as a team, and that requires each member to fulfill his or her role,” Tolsma said. “It will be interesting to see what form these roles take on throughout the season.”

The Flames have four more races this season and will travel to Charlotte next for the Royal Cross Country Challenge.

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