Cross Country looks to finish strong at conference

As Hastings College athletics nears the end of the regular season for fall sports, the men’s and women’s cross country teams are preparing for their Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) championship meet. 

“Our men wanted to finish in the top half of conference and they’ll have a shot to do that. (For) women, it’s kind of a complete rebuilding year, so it was just kind of to see them improve in track and cross country,” said Head Coach Ryan Mahoney.

Before the season began, Mahoney knew that his teams would be facing an uphill climb in order to qualify for Nationals, which takes place in Vancouver, Washington.

“You can’t play defense; you have no control over what your opponents do. The focus needs to be intrinsic and internal — focus on them getting better, getting stronger as the year goes on,” Mahoney said.

As the season has progressed, Mahoney has been able to rely on a couple of his upperclassmen to help lead and performing well: Senior Andru Hansen for the men’s team and on the women’s team, Junior Cody Selvage.

“Andru’s got a great work ethic. Andru is a kid who didn’t get where he is just off a natural ability. He’s gone from being a 30-minute 8K runner to a sub-27 (minute) 8K runner,” Mahoney said.

Coming into this year, Hansen mentioned that his goal was to run an 8K under 27 minutes and to earn all-conference. In order to achieve this, Hansen ran about 60 to 65 miles per week for two months leading up to the season. In addition to those goals, the thought of being a senior motivated him to train harder and smarter.

“I’ve been trying to sleep around eight and a half to nine hours every night, which has really helped me,” Hansen said.

At the Midstates Classic, Hansen was one of the runners who set a personal record, running 26:57.02 and finishing 41st overall. 

After struggling while adjusting to collegiate training and being away from home freshman year, Mahoney said Selvage worked hard last year as a sophomore and eventually qualified for Nationals in the steeplechase during track season. 

Selvage has learned how to step up into more of a leadership role by being more confident and consistent following the departure of recent graduates. 

“I averaged 50 miles a week for about a month and a half or so, which is a lot of miles, and I’ve put a lot of work into practices and stuff,” Selvage said. 

Selvage ran her season-best 5K time at the Midstates Classic, finishing 32nd with a time of 19:49.9. In addition to her growing confidence, Selvage credited her recent success to being focused on getting the right amount of sleep and water, as well as maintaining proper nutrition throughout the season.

“My expectations are just for them to go out and empty the tank,” Mahoney said. “On paper right now, we’re not supposed to have one (national qualifier), but paper doesn’t mean anything.”

Both men’s and women’s teams are set to start at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa.