All 6 men and 4 women raced to Personal Bests last Saturday with Men racing 8000 meters and Women 5000 in near perfect conditions. Injury and illness prevented many Lakers from competing at the first Cross Country meet of the season in Salem, Oregon. 9 Freshman successfully earned their collegiate marks in an event many describe as “bigger than my State Meet from high school. More than 600 student-athletes met beginning at 9:30am. The first races included University-only teams filled with Juniors and Seniors with NWAC teams competing in the final two races which was also dominated by 4 year schools. Many NWAC squads, like the Lakers, didn’t bring entire teams. Estimating times, both Laker teams look to be able to compete well in the conference.
Transitioning to collegiate distances is most difficult for men moving from 5K to 8K or about 3 miles to 5. For the Laker Men in a race of about 200, Lamont Klepper led the way in 29:06. Braden Walters followed 7 runners back in 29:25. Ten men behind that came Devan Stancil in 30:28. Ryan Cecil scored fourth in 32:37. Notable for his first Cross Country mark ever in 34:13 (and first race in the USA) was ChongHyun Lee, an international student from South Korea. Then a few seconds later, Harold Naneng finished in 34:36. All the men commented how they raced conservatively and expect to come into their own in the coming weeks. While Cross Country event times can be misleading due to environmental factors like wind and rain and course conditions like soft grasses or hills, Braden, the long Sophomore, ran his best mark ever at 8000 and 2:21 better than his time last year on this exact course. Great improvement Braden!