Eagles run against inexperience
Friday, September 14, 2007
By Stefanie Trent
no seniors on the men’s side, and two seniors on the women’s side,
there appeared to be some question marks for the Oklahoma Christian
University cross country teams this season.
After one week, those questions were answered positively as the Eagles
placed first at their opening meet and the Lady Eagles placed third.
The coaches and runners still know that with such a young team, they
must continue to improve as the season continues if they are to reach
“We just want to see everyone get better,” Assistant Coach Mark
Thompson said. “We have a fresh clean slate with the kids. Neither of
us has coached them before. When we go to nationals, we want to be the
best we can be. Since we have a young team, we are trying to establish
Oklahoma Christian has a long tradition of excellence in cross
country. With their youth this season, the Eagles and Lady Eagles will
try to avoid a down year.
“My main goal for this year is to not let anyone say that this year
is a rebuilding year,” Junior Lewis Baumgardner said. “All that means
is you didn’t stand up to the name that you have made for yourself.”
With this mindset come new expectations from coaches. Everyone seems
to have a positive outlook while striving for the best for both teams.
“I expect for both teams to improve each week and each race,” Head
Coach Wayne Strohman said. “The way we are training is so that we are
running our best races at the end of the season, each race getting
The coaches have high expectation for their young runners. On the
men’s side, there are eight freshmen along with four returning juniors.
The women have seven freshmen, four sophomores and two seniors.
“Rachel Snider will hopefully step in and fill some shoes,” Thompson
said. “Kate Hudgens, a top runner from last year, is coming back from
knee surgery. We definitely need a girl to step into a leadership role.
“Jordan Powell set a school record in the mile last year. With no
senior leadership, we expect Jordan, while having success, to step up
and become a leader.”
Snider, a sophomore, transferred to Oklahoma Christian this year from Lipscomb University.
“I know it is hard to lead new things especially from transferring,”
Snider said. “I want to help the team as a whole to figure out what it
means to be a college cross country runner.”
The Eagles and Lady Eagles run in their second meet of the season
Saturday in the Missouri Southern Stampede at Missouri Southern State
University. Thompson said he expects some of the men to be successful
at the meet, even with NCAA Division I schools competing.
“Some of our guys are ready for this,” Thompson said. “Jordan really needs to be pushed, and this will do that for him.”
The running won’t get any easier for Oklahoma Christian in the
Sooner Athletic Conference. Oklahoma Baptist University has been stiff
competition for many years.
“OBU has set the standard for the last seven or 10 years, not only for
our conference, but at nationals as well,” Strohman said. “We are going
to try to knock them off, and if we cannot do it this year we will try
again next year.”
The coaches want to see improvement in each runner. Jordan Powell and Rachel Snider stand out in the coaches’ mind.
“We want Powell to continue his improvement. The next step for him
is to become an All-American in November,” Strohman said. “Rachel
Snider should qualify for nationals individually.”
Even with their young talent, it appears Oklahoma Christian plans to continue their tradition of success in cross country.
After their victory in the University of Central Oklahoma Land Run, the
Eagles are ranked No. 2 in the NAIA Region VI poll released on Monday.
They are preceded by Oklahoma Baptist University. Nationally, the Bison
are ranked No. 8.
The Lady Eagles are ranked No. 3 in Region VI behind Wayland Baptist
University and Northwood University (Texas) after their third place
finish in the Central Oklahoma Land Run.