After 31 years of running, what’s just eight more miles?
The men’s 8k and women’s 5k cross country teams placed first and third respectively in the Northwest Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships on Nov. 12.
The win, at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington, was the men’s second championship title in the conference and the first team win since 1985. This was the last tournament of the season for the cross country team.
Expressing his thoughts on the victory, Lane’s Track and Field director Grady O’Connor said they didn’t expect their run to be easy.
“We had the target on our back,” O’Connor stated about being the favorite going into championships. “That put a whole different approach and strategy on the contest.”
Lane has lost to their rival Spokane six times since ’85, and placed runner-up to Spokane three of the last four years. After the 46 to 49 victory against Spokane, O’Connor discussed why he thought their strategy worked. “I feel like we were the deeper team. In the past, that was our Achilles’ heel.”
Three Lane athletes, sophomore Ben Harter and freshmen Michael Martin and Lexi Healey, also placed in the All-American individual contests. Healey finished first with a 19.00.2 time over Spokane sophomore Kaylee Marquardt at 19.16.5. Michael Martin, runner-up for the men’s individual title, finished with a 25.50.9 — a mere three seconds off of Clark sophomore Sam Gavin’s time of 25.47.4.
One final accolade for Lane was O’Connor being named Men’s Coach of the Year, the fifth time in his career. What he could not stress enough was the sacrifice from his team and his joy with the victory. “It really is a special win,” he said. “This (team) is holding a very special place in my career.”