Under the direction of third-year head coach Jeff Raymond, the Lancers hope to fully realize their potential for both the men’s and women’s squads.
“Our biggest goal for the year is to continue showing improvement, not just in our times or places, but in how hard we work and prepare,” Raymond said. “In a way this is a transition year. I like what I see so far, but we’ll find out more after a few races.”
The men’s team will lean on their strong upperclassmen presence to fill the void left by All-Conference graduates Randy Sterk and Daniel Ng. The Lancers finished sixth in the competitive Crossroads League and eighth in the NCCAA National Championships last year.
Juniors Ben Drew and Jonathan Rex ran in Grace’s top five last year, and both runners will be counted on to be frontrunners in 2012.
“Drew, Rex, Dustin Fletcher and Matt Brunner are all upperclassmen, so we need them to lead by example and by performance,” Raymond said. “Ben [Drew] and Jonathan [Rex] were top five runners last year and need to make the jump to being runners who can lead us on race day.”
During their freshman seasons, Tim Trapp, Jamin Parker and Richie Cornett placed in Grace’s top five at times. The trio, in addition to Donovan Graham, will hope for improved times and consistency in 2012.
Joining them are a pair of freshmen in Collin Chupp (Elkhart, Ind./Concord) and Corban Wyatt (Nappanee, Ind./NorthWood). Both newcomers have potential to be impact runners right away, according to Raymond.
On the women’s side, Raymond faces the unique challenge of having a freshman-dominated roster. Eleven of the 14 Lady Lancers are new faces to the roster, but Raymond expects the women to be more competitive than last year.
Jenna McClellan, Marina Ramirez and Marena Lodzinski are the three returners and will be looked upon to provide leadership to a young squad.
McClellan was Grace’s No. 1 runner throughout the 2011 season, placing in the top 10 in a pair of races.
“The women’s main strength is our greater numbers this year. I can already see the impact of having bigger training groups and having right next to you in each practice. That alone makes everyone better,” Raymond said. “The key is finding which newcomer will handle college competition the best and not be afraid to challenge themselves on race day.”
According to Raymond, the incoming freshmen are led by Tara Hamstra (Kouts, Ind./Kouts), who has potential to be the team’s top runner. Creigh Ogle, Allison Zylstra, Megan Gast and Alexis Nelson are just a few of the other first-year Lady Lancers who hope to contribute immediately.
The Lancers begin their season on Sept. 1 at the Goshen Hokum Karem in Goshen, Ind.
Preview provided by the Grace College Sports Information Department.