Cross Country seniors look back on four memorable seasons

By Abe Field

The men’s and women’s cross country teams ended their season on Nov. 11 at Pomona College. The dusty race at the NCAA Division III West Regional Championships was the last cross country meet for the six seniors on the team: Kori Groenveld ’18, Amelia Jackson ’18, Jeff Mullins ’18, Blake Slattengren ’18, Ivan Ramos King ’18 and George Shoemaker ’18.

Mullins, who was in a position to qualify for nationals if he placed well at regionals, failed to qualify despite placing 23rd overall with a time of 26:18.5.

“I was something around 40 seconds off my personal record,” Mullins said.

Despite a disappointing end to the season, Mullins was excited to be done with his race, which also happened to be on his 21st birthday.

“Overall, it was still my best season as a Pioneer,” Mullins said.

At the Northwest Conference Championships in Walla Walla, Washington, Mullins led the Pioneers with a 3rd place finish followed by Slattengren and Sean Richardson ’20 in 6th and 7th, respectively. The Pioneers finished 3rd in the conference, only four points behind Pacific Lutheran University. It was their best finish since 2012.

“I loved cross country in high school so I naturally got into it here,” Mullins said.  “Everyone on it was really nice, including the coach. Couldn’t find a reason not to be on it.”

Groenveld, who placed 69th overall with a time of 24:28.4 said that she has enjoyed every minute of her running career at LC.

“I was recruited to run at LC,” Groenveld said via email. “The fun of laughing and scheming and competing with some of the most insane people I’ve ever met made me want to stay.”

Although her last race did not go as she had hoped, Groenveld said that she has enjoyed other races at LC.

“My most memorable race was probably getting trampled by two people and subsequently spiked in the back in the first hundred meters of a five kilometer race at Stanford,” Groenveld said.

As one of the captains of the women’s team, Groenveld hopes to leave behind a legacy of hard work and commitment to her team. One of the most influential people that Groenveld met through running cross country was Marsella “Marsevil” Chavez ’21.

“Her guidance and support always helped me get through tough days at practice,” Groenveld said. “I’ll forever remember her wisdom, maturity, and great sense of style.”

Many senior runners on the cross country team expressed gratitude and admiration for their coach, Keith Woodard. Woodard, currently in his 10th year coaching at LC, has developed a special bond with this year’s seniors.

“Keith is a phenomenal coach,” Mullins said. “He doesn’t push you any harder than you want to go. He really got me into the sport and I haven’t gotten burned out at all.”

Frances Swanson ’17 was also a source of inspiration for her teammates, especially Jackson.

“(Swanson) was always a hard worker, and her senior year her hard work paid off in the form of a school record and being all region in cross country,” Jackson said via email.

As one of the most competitive teams at LC in their conference, the cross country team enters the off season with high hopes for next fall. Although they will miss the seniors, the future looks bright for the young team. After four successful seasons at LC, the seniors can look back with pride after leaving an impact on a young and promising program.

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