Runner cross country to California


by Eli Taylor

Word Association: California-sunny beaches, surfing, swimming,ocean view, and running a 5k in the sun.

Running a 5k? That seems a little out of place for most people.For the majority of the population running is not something donejust for fun and excitement, but for the Simpson cross countryteam, it is the icing on the cake to a great weekend.

“It’s mostly a team building thing for us,” said junior DanSaar.

“We’ve got a lot of activities planned besides the run likeshopping on Rodeo Drive, going to the beach, and maybe checking outa taping of a sitcom,” said sophomore Jen Wendt.

At any rate the team left last Thursday and flew to Californiato battle it out with the other teams participating in the LongBeach State Invitational.

“Last year we went to Okoboji and this year we wanted to dosomething even bigger to help build team spirit,” said Saar.

California isn’t the only thing on the team’s mind.

“We are hosting the Conference tournament this year, so we’regearing up to for that, too,” said Saar.

Conference was moved, at the beginning of the year, from thelovely country of the Dutchmen of Central College to SimpsonCollege for reasons unbeknownst to the runners.

“Our course is really difficult because there are so many hills,so few flat spots, and rough terrain,” said Wendt.

“We hope to see people out there supporting us because it’s ourhome turf, so we have that advantage, and if we get a lot of fansupport that is one more thing that helps us out. In the end wewant to win,” said Saar.

That’s how one of the veterans feels, but new comers have theirown feelings. Sophomore Craig Vasquez, who joined the teacm becausethe numbers were low, says the experience is about fun for him.

“It’s really just more about fun for me,” said Vasquez. “I justwanted to get in shape and lose weight, but what I found was agreat group of people who welcomed me when I started and havesupported me all year.”

Wendt joined because she thought it would help her track times.She then went on to break a school record and be named the IIACcross country runner of the week twice. She feels this has been adifficult task that was wotrth the effort.

“It’s probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but it’sreally rewarding, even though it doesn’t feel like it while you’rerunning. We’ve got a good chance to do well at Conference, andpersonally, I am just one of many young people who would like toplace in the top fifteen and qualify for nationals,” saidWendt.

The youth of the team seems to be a factor because of how lowthe sheer number of runners was this year.

“It puts a lot of pressure on the ones who are healthy becausethey have to stay that way. We get aches and pains that just haveto be worked through,” siad Saar.

“Sometimes it makes it difficult to compete because of how truethe old adage ‘strength in numbers’ is,” said Vasquez, “especiallywhen other teams have twice as many competitors than we do.”

“With fewer people it is more difficult to score as a team,”said Wendt.

So while it’s too late to follow the team to California, wait alittle while until the first of November and support the crosscountry team at the Conference tournament right here inIndianola.