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2020 Cross Country Outlook

College of the Ozarks men’s and women’s cross-country teams are eager to take to the trails for their 2021 season.

Hannah Duncan, former Lady Cat, is the only Bobcat that sixth-year Head Coach Clint Woods lost from last season. Coach Woods stated, “We’re really excited to get our season started this spring. Our ladies have been putting in a lot of work this fall in hopes that they will be able to compete this spring. We are looking to repeat as conference champs in March and earn a chance to compete at NAIA nationals.” The women’s team has four returners, featuring sophomore Janelle Staal, juniors Abigayle Money and Mary Zimmerman, and their lone senior, Bethany Marteney. Bethany Marteney, a two-time All-Conference runner has taken on the leadership role this season for the Lady Cats. Marteney has proven to be a fantastic runner for the Lady Cats, with her best 5K being ran in 20 minutes. Some other decorated Lady Bobcat leaders include juniors Abigayle Money and Mary Zimmerman. Money earned All-Conference honors last season, setting a 5K personal record of 18:52. Money was also named A.I.I. Runner of the Year and worked hard to earn a spot in the NAIA National Championship. Zimmerman was named a Second Team All-Conference runner last season with her best run being 21:30. Sophomore Janelle Staal was also a huge piece to last year’s NAIA qualifying team with her best 5K being ran in 19:47. Rounding out the team are incoming sophomore Brooklyne Sederwall (Independence, MO), and incoming freshman Lauren Cowden (Batesville, AR), Jacqueline O’Harver (DeSoto, MO), and Emily Staal (Central City, Iowa). When asked about the new runners, Woods stated, “We have several newcomers that are going to add a lot to our teams’ success.” Sederwall was an outstanding runner at Fort Osage High School where she received All-Conference recognition and was captain of the Cross-Country team. Cowden was a successful runner at Batesville High School and qualified and ran in the Arkansas State Tournament meet twice. O’Harver lettered in Cross Country at DeSoto High School. Staal, the sister of sophomore Janelle, was the 1A state champion her sophomore year of high school and holds the 5k record at Central City High School.

The men’s team returns eight runners including seniors David Byrd, Samuel Baumer, alongside juniors Mason Apperson, Wesley Moore, and Garrett Pierce. “We have a solid men’s team returning this spring and they’re eager to race. We’ll be returning six out of seven of our runners that won our conference championship last year and our goal is to do it again. A few of our runners have had some setbacks in the off-season with injuries, but they have worked hard to get themselves back in a place to compete again. Competing at an NAIA nationals is our end goal and we hope to do that in April”, Coach Woods stated. Baumer has been an outstanding runner for the Bobcats, qualifying for NAIA Nationals the last three years. Last season, he placed third in NCCAA Nationals. He also received A.I.I. Runner of the Week honors multiple times and was named A.I.I. Men’s Cross-Country Runner of the Year for the second straight season. Byrd has been a steady runner for the Bobcats and will be a senior leader for this year’s team. He ran his PB last season with a time of 27:19. Pierce, now entering his junior campaign, was named First Team All-Conference as a sophomore and freshman and set a personal record of 26:40 in the men’s 8K. Moore has also shown his running ability and ran his PB at the NAIA Mid-States Classic with a 27:28. Apperson ran his PB when the Bobcats needed it most, in the A.I.I. Conference Championship, and ran a 29:33. The Bobcats also return sophomores Adin Hiebsch, Cole Jackson, and Aaron Walker. Hiebsch played a big role in the team chemistry last season and ran a personal best of 28:27 last season. Jackson hopes to prove his running capabilities this season after returning from an injury. Walker has consistently improved at every meet and ran his personal best in the last meet of the year with a 29:41. The Bobcats welcome one new runner, Cole Chafin (Willow Springs, MO). Woods states, “We’re looking forward to the addition of Cole Chafin to our roster. As a freshman he will be a great runner for us and will push our team to get better.” Chafin was an outstanding runner at Willow Springs where he qualified for state throughout his four seasons of Cross Country.

With such a great mix of strong returners and promising new recruits, the Bobcat and Lady Bobcats have their sights set high this year. Coach Woods spoke about his teams and stated, “As always with our men’s and women’s program, our goal is to create a family environment where authentic relationships are developed, and our men and women are pushed to grow in ways they never thought were possible. We hope they will continue to do that through racing this spring”. Best wishes to the Bobcat and Lady Bobcat Cross Country teams for a successful 2021 season!