Cross country teams climb to No. 1 in nation
By Ryan Tarletsky, sports editor
In sports, teams always talk about high expectations for their season even if they aren’t necessarily realistic. But the preseason expectations of Brad Peterson, Friends University’s cross country coach, were very realistic.
He expected his cross country teams not only to compete but to do nothing less than win.
"We have performed at a high level all season,” Peterson said. “We have a bunch of motivated men and women who want to be great.”
After a bit of a rough start for the men at the Wichita State race, they have picked up steam and climbed in the national rankings. With the men finishing with two first-place finishes and a second-place finish in three of its past four competitions, it is hard to ignore the team's overall success.
With seniors Matt Ditzler and Javier Cejas breaking their own records and looking to finish in the top 15 nationally, they set the pace for work ethic for their teammates as the men’s team currently ranks sixth in the nation.
The women’s team has dominated, placing first as a team in the past four races, including a first-place finish by senior Jordan Arnold, who has won every race this year by no less than 20 seconds.
“We have outstanding leaders like Jordan that set an example every single day on how to be a good distance runner,” said Peterson of his All-American.
The women’s team also ranks sixth in the nation after placing five runners in the top nine at the St. Louis Fall Classic last weekend, including a second-place finish by sophomore Kaitlyn Belisle.
At the end of the season, a national championship is given to the best men and women combined teams at nationals. The Falcons are currently tied for first in the nation with Cal San Marcos in the ratings for top combined programs. But the Falcons realize that this ranking is merely a reflection of their hard work and does not give them leeway to let up.
“That ranking means nothing if we don’t race well at nationals,” Peterson said. “We have to get the job done not only at nationals but also in conference in order to be national champions.”