2018-19 Season Outlook

The Trolls know what it takes to be successful on the cross country course and are ready to test that ability. Both the women’s and men’s teams bring back the majority of their squads from a year ago and that leadership and talent will translate to positive team and individual finishes. In addition the incoming class complements the existing talent and adds to the total strength of the teams. Overall the Trolls are looking to be one of the top teams of the conference and to qualify as a team or individually for the NAIA national meet.

A year ago the women’s team finished in the top three in their five regular season meets and they also took third place at the conference championships. With two returning NAIA All-Americans, the team will at least repeat that conference performance if not push for the CCAC title. Their potential to do well has earned them a NAIA Coaches’ Poll preseason ranking of No. 24. The talent on their roster this season will allow them to post strong team finishes as well as top individual performances.

The women return everyone from last year’s roster and have added three new runners. Their 14-person roster has great veteran leadership with a core of five seniors who have proven valuable to the success of the team on and off the course.  The roster includes three all-conference runners of which two also earned NAIA All-American status. Those three runners will lead the Trolls, but the team also has a good mix of scorers who will be in the No. 4-7 spots. Overall the team has more depth which will help in the team scoring.

“I am very excited and optimistic about the women’s team,” said head coach Bob Brickman, in his 15th season. “We have great individual talent in our top runners, but we also have strong potential to do well as a team. Our depth and improvement across the board will make us very competitive.”

The Trolls will definitely look for senior Megan DeWeerd (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) and sophomore April VanRyn (Monee, Illinois) to be leaders. Both of these athletes were NAIA national qualifiers and All-Americans a year ago. DeWeerd is the school record holder at 17:34. She finished in the top two, including three first place finishes, in the team’s seven meets a year ago. She also took second overall at the conference meet and was seventh at the NAIA National Championships. VanRyn had a stellar rookie season with four top four individual finishes during the season and a 28th place finish at the NAIA National Championship. With a third place finish at the conference meet, she was named the CCAC Freshman of the Year. Overall she posted a season best of 17:45 and ranks second in Trinity’s records book.

Senior Nicole Syverson (Hawthorn Woods, Illinois) will also factor into the top runners. A year ago she earned all-conference honors with a 15th place finish at the CCAC meet. Her ability will make the team very strong in their top three positions.

Creating a team scoring threat and adding to the Trolls’ strength is a group of runners that will be in the mix of the top seven.  Senior Hope Fathman (Hamilton, Michigan) continues to be a strong competitor for the team and a consistent performer each season. She finished in the top 30 in the conference meet last year.  Juniors Corrie Jacobi (San Marcos, California) and Mikayla VanLaan (Wayland, Michigan) both ran their career bests a year ago and they continue to push to move their way up in the individual places. Senior Francesca Strolia (Orland Park, Illinois) returns to the team after missing last year due to injury. She has the potential to help the team scoring.  Added to that mix is freshman Allie Boss (Frankfort, Illinois) who had a successful high school career and will move into the group of top runners.

The additional depth to the team comes from returning and incoming runners. Senior Brittany Hoekman (Hudsonville, Michigan) is a veteran runner and provides positive leadership. Sophomores Indre Dukauskas (Palos Heights, Illinois) and Barb McAndrews (Wheaton, Illinois) have a year of experience to call upon. Sophomore Annie Rangel (Palos Heights, Illinois), who did not compete due to injury, will be on the course. Also getting into the collegiate competition will be freshman Nicole Arias (Oak Lawn, Illinois) and Kate DeKryger (Grandville, Michigan).   

Like the women’s team, the men’s program returns the majority of their roster from a year ago. They lost only two runners and bring back 10, including their top five competitors. In addition, the three newcomers have the ability to break into the scoring positions on the team and make an immediate contribution. Overall the 13-man roster is balanced with a core of athletes in each class. With their talent the team, which finished in sixth place at the CCAC meet a year ago, will push for a top three finish this year.

“I am very hopeful about the scoring ability of the men’s team this year,” said Brickman. “Overall we have good leadership, talent across the board, and a strong mix in the scoring positions. We are deeper this season and have the potential to make significant improvement in our overall team and individual performances.”

The team returns their top four runners from a year ago and will call on those individuals to lead again this year. Sophomore Caleb DeWeerd (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) will be a top contender this season after a solid rookie year. He broke into the top 10 in Trinity’s records book in his freshman year with a best of 26:32 in the 8K race. Junior Brantley VanOverloop (Hudsonville, Michigan) will be another top contender as he posted his career best of 27:08 last season and finished in the top 30 at the CCAC Championships. Senior Nick Heidinger (Crestwood, Illinois) brings experience and talent as he was consistently a top three runner for the Trolls last year. He posted his career best of 26:55 last season. Senior Kyle VanderPlaats (Sioux Center, Iowa) enters his fourth season and provides leadership. A year ago he helped out the scoring and logged his career best time of 27:06.

The next few scoring spots on the team will be filled by any number of runners. In that mix are returners Kevin Courtney (Crestwood, Illinois), a junior who has made improvements every season, junior Andrew Miller (Alsip, Illinois), who did not compete last year due to injury, and sophomores Cole Akimoff (Salem, Oregon), and Nathan Krygsheld (Monee, Illinois). A couple of incoming freshmen can also break into the top five. Andrew Dobrescu (Algonquin, Illinois) earned all-state honors in high school and ran on a state championship team. Ryan Mathes (Midlothian, Virginia), who did not compete last year at a community college, earned all-conference honors in high school.

Completing the roster and adding depth to the team are senior Noah Wolters (Hudsonville, Michigan), junior Jose Beltran (Palos Heights, Illinois), and freshman John Kennedy (Tinley Park, Illinois).

For the season the teams will compete in five regular season meets. They open on August 31 at the University of St. Francis Twilight Invite. In the first week of September they compete at a new venue as they race in the Purdue University-Northwest Classic. Also in that month they return to the Midwest Intercollegiate Invitational hosted by Olivet Nazarene University on September 28. The team has two October meets as they travel to the Bethel College Invitational in Mishawaka, Indiana and to the Mount Mercy University Seminole Valley Stampede in Iowa. The CCAC Championships will be hosted by St. Ambrose University and run at Crow Creek Park in Bettendorf, Iowa on November 3. The NCCAA National Championships are on November 10 in Point Lookout, Missouri, and the NAIA National Championships for qualifiers will be held on November 16 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.