Posted 4 months ago
By John Axtell
CHADRON – Nothing comes easy in cross country, but Chadron State College head coach Ryan Baily said that can be an advantage.
“It’s one sport where it takes more than talent to be successful,” Baily said. “You also have to work extra hard. No one has ever been a cross country champion without working really hard. But there have been some outstanding cross country runners who got that way because they just kept working.”
Cross country is beginning its second season at Chadron State after a 27-year absence. Baily said he is anxious for the new campaign to kick off because after learning how hard many of the team members worked over the summer he’s convinced some exciting things will happen.
There are 15 men and 14 women on the rosters. Just three of the runners are seniors. About half the other runners are returnees from a year ago and the other half are freshmen.
The seniors include Ashley Riesen of Chadron and Alex Johnson of Kearney. Both were middle distance runners on the CSC track and field teams until cross country was reinstated. Both redshirted during the 2013 track seasons and want to use this fall’s cross country competition as a springboard for their final year of track eligibility.
Riesen led the CSC women at all of last year’s meets and has long been known for her exceptional work ethic. She holds the school record for the 800 meters indoors and placed in all four races that she entered during the RMAC Meets in 2012.
Johnson was often the first or second CSC male across the finish lines last fall, but Baily thinks he’ll do much better this fall because he ran a lot more miles this summer.
The other senior on the roster is Liz Rice of Ravenna, Neb. She has not competed in track or cross country in college, but ran a marathon in the mountains of Colorado this summer and wants to see if that training will translate into success in the much shorter cross country races.
Besides Riesen, the women’s team also returns several others who competed a year ago. They include Alliance native Jayme Nunes, and Becca Volf, who set the Eagles’ steeplechase record last spring. They shared first place with Riesen in the 10 kilometer race during the Colter Run in July.
Baily said there should be outstanding competition for the seven varsity sports on the men’s team.
The contenders will include Dylan Stansbury of Crawford, who redshirted last season, but seems to be never tire and has been among the leaders in early workouts.
Baily said sophomore Doug Harris of Las Vegas may be the pleasant surprise because he reported in great conditions. The coach added that two foreign students who joined the team a year ago, Simon Gudeta of Ethiopia and Evans Koech of Kenya, could do well.
Baily predicted that Cody Franklin of Bridgeport, the Nebraska Class D state cross country champion last fall and the winner of the Class C 1600 and 3200 at the State Track and Field Meet last May, will also excel in both sports in college.