BROOKS, Ore. – Opening a new era in George Fox University cross country under new head coach Randy Dalzell, both the men’s and women’s teams collected wins over fellow Northwest Conference foe Pacific University in the season-opening Pacific Dual Meet hosted by the Bruins Saturday morning here at Willamette Mission State Park.
Both races were 5,000 meters, with the George Fox women edging the Pacific women 27-28 and the Bruin men overtaking the Boxer men 25-32.
Joseph Pia took the lead early and cruised to victory for George Fox, pulling away from a slim early lead to open up some distance between him and runner-up Tyler Shipley of Pacific in the third and final lap. Pia ran a time of 15:36.7 to a 15:57.8 by the Boxers’ best runner in the race.
Also counting for the Bruins were Connor Niemi,who was fourth with a time 16:10.1; Kyle Dreibelbis, who was fifth with a 16:16.9; Kody Tarbell, who was seventh with a mark of 16:22.7; and Aaron Molstad, who came in eighth at 16:33.4.
Other Bruins who competed included Bryant Quinn (10th at 16:46.4), Micah Tate (11th at 17:01.1), Alexander Lull (13th at 17:08.8); Austin Morrell (15th at 17:20.9); Jahnathon Larson (17th at 17:22.8); and Mike Calavan (19th at 17:36.4).
A closing burst by Rachel Schreiber of Pacific enabled her to overtake the Bruins’ Courtney Hochstetler, who had led for most of the race, to take the women’s individual title. Schreiber ran a 19:20.2 to Hochstetler’s 19:24.5.
Helping the Bruins pull off the one-point victory were Kelsey Prentice, who was fourth with a 19:26.9; Brooke Nolte, who was fifth at 19:32.6; Sarah MacKenzie, who took sixth in 20:04.3; and Chelsea Sowards, who came in 10th at 20:23.7.
Rounding out the Bruins’ runners, Kelly Toms came in 13th at 21:01.1, and Alyssa Turner placed 14th with a 21:05.2.
Dalzell, who came to the Bruins this summer after seven years at Concordia University-Portland, where he developed the Cavaliers into nationally-prominent cross country and track and field programs in the NAIA, enjoyed a winning day at his first races with the Bruins, commenting that “both teams ran very well today, and it was nice to start off with wins on both sides. The men really stepped up, with Joseph dominating the race individually, and great team running with five guys in the top eight overall. Four of those top five (Pia, Niemi, Tarbell, and Molstad) ran personal bests, and all five ran solid races. Two other freshmen (Quinn and Tate) also ran very well at the six and seven spots to give us nice depth.
“On the ladies’ side, we were missing one of our top runners in Kate Freiheit, but Courtney, Kelsey, Brooke, Sarah, and Chelsea all ran well to give us a win. Kate just had some ITB tightness this week and we want to make sure she stays healthy, so why risk racing her in a small meet now? Alisha Haresnape also sat out with an ankle sprain that should be OK in a few weeks, so the women's depth will be better as those two get back into racing.
“Overall, it was a great effort for both groups, with the young guys really giving us a boost of depth and enthusiasm that we want.”
NEXT: George Fox will compete in the Big Wave Invitational, hosted by the University of Hawai’i-Manoa, in Honolulu next Saturday, Sept. 8. Both races will be 5K events.