Cross country on a steady pace for the season

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

Western’s cross country team is holding steady on course for this season. The team secured a pair of sixth-place finishes in San Francisco on Oct. 6 — following a pair of first-place wins at their home meet on Sept. 22.

Senior, Caitlin Heldt, came in seventh place to bring the women’s team to 144 points and secure the sixth-place win — Heldt completed the 6k race in 22 minutes, 0.4 seconds. For the men’s team, Freshman, Konoa Blake, finished 28, completing the 8k race in 26 minutes, 3 seconds and bringing the team to 167 points. 

Heldt and Junior, Olivia Flack, had positive attitudes about their team’s success and training environment.“Our team is very competitive and I think we work very well together in practices,” Flack said. This is Flack’s second year at Western. “This is the first year overall that we actually have been able to have a big group during workouts,” she also said. She feels it helps the team environment and fuels competitiveness.

“This year we’re a lot more positive in what we say to each other and ourselves,” Heldt added. She talked about how the team uses mantras and affirmations to remain positive. “We’re more competitive this year, so we’re always in packs and competing better than last year.” 

Both Heldt and Flack have goals to race in Nationals and to place high in the GNAC championship race in Anchorage, Alaska and the NCAA West Regionals, hosted at home at Western. 

“Zach is a great coach, he’s really good at knowing where we’re at and communicating with us,” Flack said about their head coach Zach Holloway — this is his first year as head coach, after four seasons as Western’s assistant coach.

“He’s very young, so I feel like it’s very easy to talk to him and I feel like he understands us,” Heldt said.

Flack was also among the 21 cross country runners named for the GNAC All-Academic Honors. To receive this honor, athletes must have a grade point average of at least 3.2 and have competed on an official course during the 2023 season. Three students on the list had a 4.0 GPA: Juniors Josie Ackerman, Kaitlyn Kruse and Rami Dear — Ackerman and Kruse had both been on the honoree list the previous year. 

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