Lane Cross Country runs away with Southern Region Championship

Image courtesy of Abdullah Khawaja/Lane Athletics
Image courtesy of Abdullah Khawaja/Lane Athletics
Titan cross country athletes (from left) Andy Muha, Moises Martinez, and Michael Martin run together in the Southern Region Championship at Umpqua Community College on Oct. 28. Finishing in the top three positions, Martin placed first in the championship with a time of 25.56 while his teammates Muha and Martinez finished with times of 26.22 and 26.36 respectively.

In his first year as a community college head coach, Bill Steyer already has a regional championship under his belt. Steyer previously coached in Homer, Alaska as the cross country and track and field coach for seven years. In that span, he earned five state championships and six runner-up finishes. His leadership turned the program into a running powerhouse, and he notched three consecutive Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year awards, given to him by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association.

Steyer, however, is not one to rest on his laurels. “I enjoy coaching at the next level because you kind of get to realize the kids’ potentials,” Steyer said.

Image courtesy of Abdullah Khawaja/Lane Athletics
The Lane Cross Country team poses for a group photograph with their new coach Bill Steyer as they celebrate their winnings at Umpqua Community College on Oct. 28. The men’s team placed first and the women’s team third for the second consecutive year.

In the Southern Region Championships, the Titans dominated. In the men’s race, Michael Martin, Andy Muha and Moises Martinez finished first, second and third respectively to give the men’s their second consecutive Southern Region Championship. The women’s team placed third for the second year in a row. Five runners placed in the top 16 — Carly Kleefeld and Rielly Frerk led the squad, placing 7th and 8th.

“Normally, Kleefeld is a 400 meter runner in track, but she stepped up big for us this season,” Steyer said.

Steyer reflected on the Titan men’s race at George Fox when sophomore runner Michael Martin placed first and set a personal record that helped the team win first place in what coach Steyer dubbed, “The most exciting race of the year.” Martin ran the 8K race in 24:27. He bested his old record by almost 17 seconds.

Steyer credited the team’s chemistry for part of their accomplishments this season. “They evolved into becoming a team, and they look out for each other on the course,” said Steyer.

The Titan men will run in the NWAC Championships on Nov. 11 in Lacey, Washington. The Titan men have finished in the top 2 overall every year since 2012. They are hoping to keep that streak alive, and seem primed to dominate.