PLNU Cross Country will rely on talent over experience this year as they fight to make it back to regionals once again. With a total of 18 runners, this year’s team is one of the largest in recent memory. A predominantly freshman and sophomore group will be led by just six upperclassmen.
“After the year we had last year, my expectations are very high,” said head coach Jerry Arvin. “Last year’s team was one of the fastest I have ever had and with the new girls we’ve added, our team is very deep.”
In his 23rd season as Head Coach for the Cross Country team, Arvin’s compliments are enough to get anyone excited. With only six meets during the regular season, Arvin admits that there is very little room for his team to fall behind.
“The mental side of running is just as important as the physical side,” said Arvin. “At some point in every race, the pain is so intense that you want to quit. It is the most mentally tough runners that come out on top.”
For the 12 underclassmen on the team, having a mental edge doesn’t always come naturally. Arvin and his team have relied heavily on the upper classmen to continue the success they saw last year.
“We wanted to be a team, not only through running but outside of it as well,” said junior Alex Hernandez. “It is not hard to tell that we have the talent to make it back to regionals and then hopefully to nationals. I am very excited to see how we do.”
Amongst all of the additions the team has made this year, one has stood out over the rest. Sophomore Hannah Benoit Bucher, a transfer from Arizona State University, turned heads during preseason workouts and placed second in the Biola Invite this past weekend.
“For me, I was looking for a small Christian community where I could grow,” said Bucher. “So far I have loved it here. From what I have heard, we had a very good team last year. I just hope to make as much of an impact as possible and enjoy what I love to do.”
PLNU finished third overall in the Biola Invite with three runners finishing in the top 10 including Bucher, Hernandez, and sophomore Brianna Bartello. Only California Baptist University and Biola University topped the Sea Lions. Both schools should be the biggest tests within the conference for PLNU.
The team will travel to Seattle this weekend to compete in the Sundodger Invitational hosted by the University of Washington.
For this PLNU Cross Country team, the sky is the limit. The primary concern is experience but after one meet that is looking to not be a factor. Coach Arvin appeared very confident and spoke of his runners like they were the best he has ever had. With five meets left, PLNU’s younger talent is holding strong with a hope for nationals.