Written by Student Assistant Eli Brown
TACOMA, Wash. – Saturday's Emerald City Open, to be held at Lower Woodland Park in Seattle and will serve as a final chance for runners across both the Pacific Lutheran University men's and women's cross country teams to piece together a well-rounded competitive strategy before the Northwest Conference Championships just two weeks away.
Head Coach Adam Frye has kept the focus of the team on the upcoming championships since the beginning of the season, working to provide his runners with a litany of techniques vital to great performances in the postseason.
As numerous athletes across both teams explained, the focus of Coach Frye in any given week throughout the preseason was often very specific, including everything from running correct splits and working as a team to developing a sense of confidence within every athlete concerning their capacity to compete.
This approach to preparation was very purposeful.
"We've been focusing on a lot of different components of our racing throughout the season and building towards the championship," said Frye. "Now we're in a position with both our fitness as well as the tools we've got in our belt to try and put together our best races."
The Lutes have experienced success so far this season, the men rank 10th in the West region while Brad Hodkinson has been the top Division III finisher at both the Sundodger Invitational (Sept. 17) and the Charles Bowles Invitational (Oct. 1). On the women's side, Shailee Woodard has been the top finishing Lute at each of the three races this fall, including a second place showing at the season opening Puget Sound Invitational.
With the NWC Championships and the postseason now looming less than a month away, Coach Frye notes that "it's time to put all those things together and be the best we can, run our best races. It's time to get away from trying to run splits or beat a time and instead try to run our races in a way that allows us to beat as many people to the finish line as we can."
Although athletes on both teams have already competed well this season, the holistic approach PLU cross country is bringing to Emerald City Open should make for an exciting and, perhaps more importantly, successful weekend for the Lutes.
Both the men's and women's teams will take the last stop in their journey before the postseason as they travel to the Emerald City Open on Saturday. The women's 6,000-meter race begins at 10 a.m. with the men to follow with an 8,000-meter race at 11 a.m. From there, PLU will move into postseason competition, beginning on Oct. 29 at the NWC Championships in Newberg, Oregon.