An underdog makes his return


by Aaron Young

It had been a long, patience battling 23 months until Simpson junior men’s cross country runner Joe Farrand made his long awaited debut on the course at the Buena Vista Invitational on Sept. 21.

His motivation, for almost two whole years during the rehabilitation process, was to prove himself.

Farrand was sidelined with a severe stress fracture in his left tibia during his freshman campaign. Spending hour after hour a day to try and get healthy, The Kansas City native spent four months undergoing physical therapy treatments in Des Moines. He consumed his entire summer this past year receiving treatments to help deal with the scar tissue in his leg, and could be found constantly in the weight room either cross training on the bike or the elliptical machine.

But from the outside looking in, all Farrand wanted to do was to be able to be healthy again and run with his team.

“I felt really uncomfortable around my teammates, “Farrand said. “They couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t get healthy and I was very jealous of them for staying healthy. I didn’t want to be around them at all because we couldn’t understand each other, and I felt like an outsider. I spent a lot of time asking myself “What if….” I would have done anything to be able to go out and run with them.”

A quote that Farrand used as his motivation to stay positive comes from his hero, former University of Iowa standout runner Micah VanDenend: “The easiest part about running is running.”

“I believe that is true. When you’re injured, time stands still and you are on the sidelines watching your teammates run well and be happy,” Farrand said.

He chose to run at Simpson College because of its team’s underdog-type story; a school with a good running tradition, but not recently.

“I think I barely touched my potential in high school, and I got injured right when I started running well in college,” Farrand said. “All we have is a group of hardworking, blue-collar runners who want to show that we are one of the best teams in the region.”

Being motivated by his teammates, Farrand witnessed how hard they were working and how well they were running. It inspired the junior runner to work even harder and get back to the hills as soon as possible so he could contribute and be a part to their success.

Success came to Farrand and his teammates on Saturday.

As a team, Simpson won the Lamb-Kohawk Invitational in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, led by Jake Sutton and Farrand. Farrand trailed his teammate by four seconds as Farrand turned in a time of 26:13.

This season for the Simpson College men’s cross country team has been great thus far, according to Farrand. The outlook for an extraordinary season is on the horizon.

“Our workouts have been amazing. Our seniors, Jake Sutton, John Warnke and Mitch Davis, are great leaders. Their work ethic and positive attitudes are definitely contagious. We have a killer freshmen class and we expect them to be major contributors at conference and regionals,” Farrand said.

Head Cross Country Coach Heath Moenck is probably the best coach Farrand has ever met. If it was not for Moenck, Farrand probably would have given up running a long time ago after he suffered his injury.

“He is inspirational, understanding and is constantly learning new things and striving to make the team better; recruiting top runners, preventing injury or building team morale,” Farrand said.

On the flipside, Coach Moenck’s favorite memory thus far in the season was Farrand’s comeback.

“Joe’s perseverance these past two years has been a great showcase to his teammates on what hard work and patience does in this sport,” Moenck said.

And then that time had come. Farrand made his comeback at the Buena Vista Invite on Sept. 21 and that was all he wanted, to just be standing at the starting line waiting for the take-off.

“It felt great to be back out on the cross country course,” Farrand said. “Standing at the starting line with a group of guys who have supported me for the past two years is an incredible feeling. I think our performance was a decent starting point. It wasn’t a fast time, but we took control of the race and our entire team ran very well.”

The goals for the team this year and every year is to improve from previous seasons. Their primary goal is to place in the top ten within the region. Last year the squad finished in 11th, which was the team’s highest finish ever since 1996. The men are also looking to drop their average team time by over a minute.

“Our conference is incredibly tough on the men’s side this year with four of the top five ranked teams in the region coming from the IIAC,” Moenck said. “We would love to sneak into the top four and surprise everyone.”

One word to describe this team: Hungry.

“The recent Simpson cross country tradition has been to train well, have one top runner, and everyone else run inconsistently. I think everyone this year is past that mindset,” Farrand said. “Our top seven or eight runners are all in contention for a varsity top-five spot and we run hard together in workouts. We don’t drop each other in practice and we are focused on taking care of our bodies. All the guys know what is at stake this year and we don’t want to waste any time in showing that Simpson cross country, as well as Simpson track, has turned a new leaf: We have a young coach, we have a motivated team and we have great team chemistry. I couldn’t dream up a better team than the one we have now.”

Farrand and the rest of the Storm runners will be taking their talents to West Salem, Wis. at the Jim Drews/Tori Neubauer Invitational on Oct. 13.