By Melody Karpinski
Arts & Entertainment Editor
The PLNU cross-country teams are preparing for a competitive 2009 season, running in a conference against some of the highest-ranked teams in the nation. With a squad of 18 women, Head Coach Jerry Arvin predicts a season full of potential for the Sea Lions.
“We have a very young and very strong women’s team,” Arvin said. “It’s probably one of the strongest, if not the strongest women’s team we’ve ever had.”
With only three upperclassmen, the team is largely freshmen.
“I feel a sense of pride and anticipation for [the freshmen],” said senior Katie Browning. “They’re a talented group and I think they’ll prove to be successful.”
The team will be missing junior Elise Manley, who is red-shirting this fall while studying abroad in Spain. Junior Katie Kunz, who had a 5k time of 18:44 last season, is currently out due to a foot injury.
Despite these setbacks, Arvin said 2009 has the “deepest women’s team by far.”
The women look to repeat their string of NAIA National Championship appearances, but they will have some serious contenders to deal with along the way. In the GSAC, the lady Sea Lions will be competing against Biola University, Concordia University and Azusa Pacific University, ranked 4th, 5th and 7th, respectively, after pre-season rankings.
“The team is really coming together, and I think Point Loma is going to do well this [season],” said freshman Ashlee Szabo.
The men’s team will face a different kind of challenge this fall, as they struggle to maintain both numbers and health.
“The men and the women teams [are] whole different ballgames,” Arvin said.
Three of the team’s eight runners have already sustained injuries. The men’s team also suffered the loss of graduate Landon Bright, who was a 2008 All-American for PLNU last season.
Arvin said that though the PLNU men are talented, their “lack of depth” is preventing them from being serious competitors.
“My goals for this season are really for each athlete to come together and improve,” said Arvin. “It’s getting them to perform and realize their full potential.”
The team’s next competition will take place in Balboa Park at the Aztec Invitational Sept. 19.