2012 Cross Country
2012 Cross Country Preview
Beavers expect continued improvement in 2012
August 7, 2012
Bluffton University Head Cross Country Coach Karen Brandt has high expectations for 2012 after a season in which 11 dedicated student-athletes set the tone one year ago in her first year at the helm. Taking over a program that was struggling to maintain the numbers needed to generate a team score, Coach Brandt helped her team foster a toughness that was evident each time it completed a race. "Despite being such a small group, our 2011 team did an amazing job, capping the season off with outstanding performances at the HCAC Championships and NCAA Regional meet," stated Coach Brandt. Hard work, dedication and camaraderie, all of which are key components of what Coach Brandt is building, have been instrumental in the rapid improvement of Bluffton's cross country program.
Never ready to rest on their laurels, Coach Brandt and her husband, Jim, have recruited 16 newcomers to join the five returners as they continue to push the program forward. Coach Brandt is excited about the newcomers that will compete for her this fall. She said, "They are serious about their academics, they have displayed commitment to our training this summer and they will fit in well on the Bluffton campus." The emotional toughness of Bluffton's returners will illuminate the path as four of the five men who were determined to make a statement last year are back for 2012, the lone graduate being recent Ironman finisher Andy Chaffee.
Seniors Alison Janzen (Whitewater, Kan./Remington) and Chris Arnold (Fort Wayne, Ind./Canterbury) have accepted the challenge to lead as captains this season. They have displayed leadership while taking over as role models for the underclassmen. With more new faces on the team this year, it is up to them to set the tone for a talented and deep group of freshmen who have the Beavers preparing for even more dramatic improvement in 2012. Janzen is coming off a superb junior campaign in which she made significant improvements in both cross country and track. During the spring, Janzen recorded huge PR performances in the 800 meters, mile, 3,000 meters and the 5,000 meters.
Senior Jeremy Kidder (New Carlisle/Tecumseh) along with sophomores Michael Gray (Ulysses, Penn./North Potter) and Ryan Schadewald (Lima/Bath) gained valuable experience during their first season with Coach Brandt and they will model the dedication that is expected of the newcomers. Schadewald ran #2 on last year's cross country team and he followed that up by recording healthy PR's for the mile and 5,000 meters during the spring track season. Eight freshmen, including state mile-qualifier Zachary Smith (West Unity/Hilltop), and a junior transfer contribute to a squad size that is nearly triple what it was just one year ago.
Senior Mackenzie Mayer (Versailles) is preparing for her first year of cross country after competing in distance events for the track and field team in the spring. Five freshmen and a junior transfer who are primed to help the Beavers duplicate or exceed the startling fifth-place finish at the HCAC Championships in 2011 give the Bluffton women's team a burst of youth. "I am excited to have six new women who are both talented and driven," stated Coach Brandt. One of those newcomers is Nichole Peterman (Killbuck/West Holmes) who took home 8th place at state with a time of 2:20 in the 800 meters.
The Beavers have scheduled a challenging slate of races, including the Heartland Conference Championships which Bluffton will host in the Nature Preserve on Saturday, October 27. A home meet is also slated for Sept. 8. Bluffton travels to ONU, Otterbein, Cedarville (All-Ohio) and Oberlin before capping the season at Anderson University for the NCAA Regionals on Nov. 10.