The women’s cross country team kicked off its season, finishing twelfth of 25 teams, Sept. 12, on the road at Calvin College.
Coming in first for the Foresters was newcomer Aspen Dirr, who finished 35th overall with a time of 19:05.
Seniors Hannah Moore and Krista Wood will lead the Forester squad this season, returning to the course well seasoned. Moore started her last season as a Forester strong with a time of 19:32 to finish 55th. Wood clocked in at 20:24 (99th).
Junior Christine Sparks also finished in the top 100, crossed the line at 19:46 to garner 68th place.
Forester upperclassmen said that the freshman mesh well with the team, and the dynamic is exactly where they want it to be.
“I would say pre-season camp went really well because we got super close,” Wood said. “That’s kind of the goal of it, to do team-building exercises. They [the freshmen] fit in right away.”
With the team coming together as a family and growing closer, one of their main goals is making Christ the foundation of it all.
“I think over the past years, we’ve tried to make Christ the center of our team, like Bible studies and just praying together,” veteran Moore said. “I think that’s something that has definitely improved.”
With their preseason goal of team unity and Christ-centeredness bleeding into their running schedule, the team has another focus: staying in good health. A top team priority is to remain injury-free – their small team of seven requires everyone out on the course.
The Foresters, however, struggled with various injuries in the past year. Christine Sparks, in particular, has struggled with foot injuries but is coming back and running for the Foresters.
This small, but ambitious, team has their eyes set on making it all the way to the big race.
“We want to go big and go to Nationals, if we can,” Moore said. “I think we can. We have a very talented team.”
Wood and Moore have made it to Nationals twice individually in their three previous years at the university, and the team made it their freshman year.
They will also be, for the first time, running on their home course in a meet.
“We haven’t hosted a meet here in about four years,” Coach Tom King said. “Two out of our six meets are at home, which is a little unusual.”
The Foresters will be hosting a meet Saturday, Oct. 3. The Crossroads League Championship will also take place at HU Nov. 7.