Storm cross country heads into final leg of the season

by Tyler LarsonStaff Writer

Simpson men’s and women’s cross country teams are off to a fast start for the 2008 season.

The Simpson cross country teams have been through a third of the season and have only two meets remaining before the conference meet.

The Storm ran at the Central Invitational on Sept. 6 where the men’s team finished second and the women’s placed fourth. They also ran at the Grinnell Les Duke Invitational on Sept. 13 where both the men’s and women’s teams finished 15th.

They had strong performances by senior Eric Osterhaus who finished third at Central and 34th at Grinnell. Sophomore Catie Ellingson pulled in a seventh place finish at Central and placed 17th at Grinnell for the women. Both teams hope to build on the recent success.

“We have performed really well for being so young,” head coach Brad Hofer said. “We have come together better than everyone has expected.”

With no seniors on the women’s team and only one senior on the men’s team, the Storm have been counting on the underclassmen to step up.

“We hope that our younger athletes grow and mature as the season goes on,” Hofer said. “We want them to be at their peak at the end of the season, so we can improve ourselves in the standings.”

Some of the runners who could really help lead the team at the end of the year are senior Eric Osterhaus and junior Jess Christensen. Osterhaus is in his last year of competitive running and really wants to have a good end to the season.

“I am sad to see my last season coming to an end,” Osterhaus said. “I would like to see us step up and perform better than last year.”

With only the Wartbug Dan Huston Invitational and the UW-La Crosse Drews/Neubauer Invitational left, Christensen would also like to lead her team to a superb end of the season.

“I want to push our runners but try not to place expectations on them,” Christensen said. “I want the team to do their own thing.”

One thing that the Storm hope to do is improve their standings in the conference and keep their spot in the region.

“Right now we are in the middle of the conference,” Hofer said. “We just need to continue to improve and grow as a team and we will get there at the end.”

Osterhaus and Christensen hope that the growth can propel them forward in the standings.

“If everyone stays healthy and runs well I think we can get in the top three in the conference,” Osterhaus said. “We just need everyone to keep improving.”

Even though they hope to propel themselves in the standings, the Storm don’t mind not being the team to beat.

“We like to be able to chase the other teams down,” Christensen said. “It is easier than handling the pressure of having a target on your back.”

Hofer, in his second season as head coach, likes where his team is headed, and he also likes seeing the athletes he brought in grow as runners.

“It is fun to see my recruits come into their own as a runner,” Hofer said.

The Storm hope to have a strong conclusion to their season in the last two meets of the regular season. After that they will be looking forward to the conference meet on Nov. 1 at Buena Vista and the regional meet on Nov. 22 at Grinnell.