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Bruins Look to Climb in NWC Cross Country Ranks under New Coach Dalzell
Written by Blair Cash    Friday, 31 August 2012 17:06   

PREVIEW:

NEWBERG, Ore.– A new coaching era begins at George Fox University this fall as Randy Dalzell, who built the Concordia University-Portland cross country and track and field programs into national powers in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, hopes to work a similar magic for the Bruin men’s and women’s cross country teams.

Both George Fox teams finished ninth in the nine-team Northwest Conference championship races last year, but Dalzell thinks the Bruin fortunes are on the rise with a solid nucleus of returning veterans and several talented newcomers.

“I firmly believe that we have the potential to move up in the conference this year,” says Dalzell, who will also serve as an assistant track and field coach for the Bruins under head coach John Smith.  “There is a solid group of runners on both the men’s and women’s teams and our depth appears to be better than it has been the last few years.”

 

Women

 

A strong finish to the 2011 season saw Courtney Hochstetler (So., Salem, Ore. / Western Mennonite HS) come in 19th in the Northwest Conference Championship and 33rd in the NCAA Division III West Regional race, becoming the first Bruin to earn All-Region honors since Rachel Giffey-Brohaugh in 2007.  Kate Freiheit (Sr., Hayfield, Minn. / Hayfield HS) was the top runner in two races for the Bruins last year and came in second in three others.  Together, Hochstetler and Freiheit give the Bruins a dynamic duo at the top of the order.

 

“Courtney had an outstanding freshman year and we look for more of the same from her this fall,” says Dalzell.  “I know Kate has battled a series of injuries in the past, but she appears pretty healthy now and ready for a fine senior season.”

 

The Bruins have six other returning runners who can be expected to provide points at one time or another, including Sarah MacKenzie (So., Redmond, Ore. / Redmond HS), Kelly Toms (So., Visalia, Calif. / Central Valley Christian HS), Chelsea Sowards (Jr., Marysville, Wash. / Lakewood HS), Alyssa Turner (Jr., Vancouver, Wash. / Hudson’s Bay HS), Alisha Haresnape (Jr., St. Helens, Ore. / St. Helens HS), and Anna Thomas (Jr., Newberg, Ore. / Newberg HS).  Sowards, MacKenzie and Turner, the last the Women’s Track Athlete of the Meet at the NWC Track and Field Championships last spring, all contributed points to the cross country team in the 2011 NWC Championship meet.

 

Kelsey Prentice(Fr., West Linn, Ore. / Westside HS), who ran for the Bruins during the spring track season, adds another talented runner to the cross country program.  Also new to the team are Brooke Nolte (Fr., St. Helens, Ore. / St. Helens HS), a junior transfer from Western Oregon University, and Jaclyn Simmons (Fr., Aloha, Ore. /Aloha HS).

 

Recent transfer Emily Painter (So., Portland. Ore. / Westview HS), an All-American in the 10K during the outdoor track season last spring at Concordia, will sit out cross country this fall, but will be a big contributor during the indoor and outdoor track seasons.  Notes Dalzell, “Emily was not only an All-American as a freshman in the 10K in track, but also ran 4:37 in the 1500 and has good speed to compete in a wide range of track events. We are excited to have her join the George Fox program.”

 

Summarizing the women’s outlook, Dalzell says, “The key will be how well our 4-through-8 runners develop during the season, what I call ‘closing the back door’.  All of them are running well and I am excited to see them develop.”

 

Men

 

Seven letter winners return for the Bruin men, led by the reliable 1-2 punch of Joseph Pia (Jr., Newberg, Ore. / Newberg HS) and Kyle Dreibelbis (Jr., McMinnville, Ore. / McMinnville HS).  Pia was the Bruins’ top scorer for a year-and-a-half until injuries slowed him in the second half of last year, while Dreibelbis came on strong at the end of last season to finish 16th in NWC Championship and 42nd in the West Region race, narrowly missing All-Region honors.

 

“If Joseph is fully healthy, he and Kyle will give us two strong front runners who could have shots at regional and national honors,” observes Dalzell.

 

Two other returnees who scored points for the Bruins in the NWC meet are Aaron Molstad (Jr., Silverton, Ore. / Silverton HS) and Kody Tarbell (So., Portland, Ore. / Sunset HS).  “Aaron and Kody have looked good for us so far,” comments Dalzell, “along with two outstanding freshmen, Bryant Quinn (Fr., Meridian, Idaho / Rocky Mountain HS) and Connor Niemi (Fr. Vancouver, Wash. / Mountain Viws HS).  I expect all of them to contribute somewhere in our top seven positions.”

 

The team’s only seniors, Mike Calavan (Sr., Sisters, Ore. / Sisters HS) and Austin Morrell (Sr., Prineville, Ore. / Crook County HS), along with Jahnathon Larson (So., Antioch, Calif. / Antioch HS) round out the list of experienced runners for the Bruins.  Says Dalzell, “One of these runners should emerge to fill out our top seven.  Austin has shown himself to be a better runner in competition than in practice in the past, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him give us a good effort there.”

 

Three other newcomers complete the roster and give the Bruins the most depth they have had in years: Alexander Lull (Fr., St. Helens, Ore. / St. Helens HS) , Micah Tate (Fr., Colorado Springs, Colo. / Pikes Peak Christian HS) and Will Lawrence (Fr, St.Helens, Ore. /St.Helens HS).

 

Summary

 

“Our eventual goal,” says Dalzell, “is to increase our recruiting presence and build even more depth in the program, but that will take a year or two.  For this year, the goal is simply to see how much improvement can be made by the ones who are already here.  We also want to develop some good distance runners who will help out and contribute significant points for our track season in the spring.”

 

Schedule

 

The Bruins open their 2012 season by hosting the Pacific Dual Meet against Northwest Conference foe Pacific University on Saturday, Sept. 1, at Willamette Mission State Park, about 30 minutes south of campus near Brooks, Ore.  Both teams will run 5K races, with the women starting at 10:00 a.m. and the men at 10:30 a.m.

 

The Bruins will also host another meet, the George Fox Invitational, on Oct. 13 at Fernhill Park in Portland, Ore., starting at 10:00 a.m.  This will be a continuation of a large meet, including high school races, that Dalzell instituted while at Concordia.

 

Other regular season races include the Big Wave Invitational in Honolulu, Hawai’i, the Sundodger Invitational hosted by the University of Washington in Seattle, and the Willamette Invitational in Salem, Ore.  The Northwest Conference Championships are set for Oct. 27 at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., with the NCAA Division III West Regionals hosted by Willamette University at the Oak Knoll Golf Course in Independence, Ore., on Nov. 10.

 

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