By Rachel Kearney
The women’s cross-country team is set for the NAIA national meet this Saturday after having one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history, according to coach Mike McDowell.
The team raced to a No. 6 ranking in the NAIA poll and took first in four of six meets this fall. After winning the CCAC conference meet on Nov. 5, the Lady
Tigers will travel to Vancouver, Wash. for their final meet of the season.
“So many things can happen [at the national meet],” McDowell said. “If they give their personal best effort, everything will fall into place.”
Both senior Lauren Versweyveld and junior Kortney Ellingboe have placed as the top two Olivet finishers at every race the past two seasons. They also led the team to an 11th place finish at last year’s national meet, after Ellingboe and Versweyveld placed 43rd and 44th individually.
While she hopes to do better individually, Ellingboe said ultimately the focus is doing well as a team.
“We definitely want to show where we’re from,” she said. “We have a lot of team spirit. We push each other.”
Ellingboe and McDowell said the team improved as the season wore on. The final five runners who score in meets were not as solid in the beginning.
“From the middle to the end of the season we grew as a team,” Ellingboe said. “The distance [in time] between our third and seventh runners has gotten much closer.”
“We’ve had good talent before, but the number one difference is smaller between our number one runner to our fifth our sixth.”
As the national meet draws nearer, both runner and coach indicated placing in the top four was a very reasonable goal.
“I look for motivated athletes so the thing I have to do is keep them positive,” McDowell said.