2017-18 Season Outlook

The 2017 men’s and women’s cross country teams are ready for another year of competition. While both teams lost significant runners for a year ago, they have others ready to take their place. The returners are a determined group and will provide leadership and experience and the incoming class has the talent to contribute immediately. The teams will look to be one of the top teams in the conference standings collectively and as individuals. They also hope to qualify as a team or individually for the NAIA national meet.

Last year the women’s team was in the top five at the conference championships and the men took sixth place overall.  Each squad had one individual, a graduating senior, qualify for the NAIA national championships. Also in the post-season, the women were sixth of 14 teams and the men were seventh of 17 teams at the NCCAA national meet.

Coach Bob Brickman, in his 14th season as head coach, is excited about the prospects of this season. As is the case every season, he knows the teams will feel the loss of the graduating seniors, but he is confident that they will be able to fill those positions and do well. He has added a couple of key recruits on both squads and is hopeful for where they can bring the teams. Overall he is pleased with his rosters and the talent across the board.
“We have good balance in our teams,” said Coach Brickman. “Each team should have a couple of top runners that will lead the pack and a group of others that will finish well and help in the team scoring. Overall we should experience growth this year.”

Last season the women’s team had ten members of which six are returning to this year’s roster. While they lost their top runner, they bring back the No. 2-4 runners who will be major contributors again this season. In addition one of the five incoming runners competed with the Trolls in her 2015 season and will be a front runner for the team. The other new runners are four freshmen, of which one rise to the top while the others will be helpful contributors. Overall the team has five juniors, two sophomores, and four freshmen.

“The ladies will do well this year with the returning and incoming talent we have,” said Brickman. “We should consistently have a couple of runners with top finishes and will be solid in our top five to six places.”

The top two runners for the team will be two individuals not on the roster last season. Junior Megan DeWeerd (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) was a member of the Trolls’ team in her freshman year where she was the team’s third top runner.  A year ago she competed in part of season at Northwestern College (Iowa), but returned to Trinity and was a member of the track team in the spring.  She is ready to step into a leadership role and her training has made her a front runner.  Also with the talent to be a top runner is freshmen April VanRyn (Tinley Park, Illinois). In her senior year at Chicago Christian High School she finished in fifth place at the state championships and set her high school record at 17:29 in the three mile. In addition she is a decorated track athlete.

Adding strength to the leading duo will be three returning juniors. Nicole Syverson (Hawthorn Woods, Illinois) was the team’s No. 2 runner last season. She was in the top 25 in the 2016 CCAC Championships and has a career best time of 19:32.  Hope Fathman (Hamilton, Michigan) has two years of experience as has shown improvement every season. A year ago she posted a best time of 19:53 and took 26th at the CCAC meet. Francesca Strolia (Orland Park, Illinois) was in her first season with the team last year and was the team’s No. 4 runner. Her season best was a 20:35.

Also returning to the squad is a group that progressed well last year and can make a difference in the team scoring this season.  Those returners are junior Brittany Hoekman (Hudsonville, Michigan), sophomore Corrie Jacobi (San Marcos, California), and sophomore Mikayla Van Laan (Wayland, Michigan).

The team has also added three freshmen who will develop and adjust to the collegiate race. Those newcomers are Indre Dukauskas (Palos Heights, Illinois), Barb McAndrews (Wheaton, Illinois), and Annie Rangel (Palos Heights, Illinois).

The men’s team brings back eight runners and has added five newcomers. They lost four runners from a year, including their top two finishers as well as a top five runner.  However they bring back four of their top seven place finishers who are ready and capable of stepping into more prominent roles. The newcomers also contain a few individuals who will make an immediate impact and factor into the team scoring.

“Overall our men are a solid group and have the potential to do well in the team scoring,” said Brickman.  “A number of the returners have trained hard since last season and will experience improvement. A couple of the new runners will also make a difference for us.”

The team has any number of returning runners that can do well and take one of the team’s top spots. Sophomore Brantley VanOverloop (Hudsonville, Michigan) was consistently in the team’s top five last year and posted a best of 28:00. He also developed during the track season and that work will carry over into this cross country season. Junior Luke Boss (Frankfort, Illinois) was another top five runner for the team a year ago. He posted a career best of 27:41 last year and has the potential to improve on that time this season. Senior Nick Heidinger (Crestwood, Illinois) will fill more of a prominent role this year in his second season with the team. A year ago he joined the team after taking a couple of years off from competing, but now after a full year of training in cross country and track, he is ready to make significant gains. Sophomore Kevin Courtney (Crestwood, Illinois) was in the team’s top seven a year ago and with a year of collegiate experience will provide more for the Trolls this season.

The other returners for the team bring experience and leadership. Senior Sam DeKryger (Grandville, Michigan) is a four-year runner, junior Kyle VanderPlaats (Sioux Center, Iowa) broke into the scoring positions a couple of times last season, junior Noah Wolters (Hudsonville, Michigan) has made improvements each season, and sophomore Jose Beltran (Palos Heights, Illinois) has a year of experience behind him.

The newcomers on the team include two sophomores and three freshmen. Making an immediate impact will be freshman Caleb DeWeerd (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), a five-time state cross country medalist for Sioux Falls Christian High School. He will contend for the one of the top spots on the team.

Sophomores Andrew Miller (Alsip, Illinois), who competed at Moraine Valley Community College a year ago, and Nathan Krygsheld (Monee, Illinois) are in their first year with the Trolls. They both have the potential to factor into the team scoring and give the Trolls added depth. Rounding out the newcomers are freshmen Christopher Aherne (Oak Lawn, Illinois) and  Cole Akimoff (Salem, Oregon), who were both four-year cross country runners in high school.

The women’s and men’s teams will race in five regular season meets this year. Their 2017 season begins on September 1 at the University of St. Francis Twilight Invite. Also in September they compete in the Lake Forest College Forester Invitational, a venue they have not been at in 15 years, and in the Midwest Intercollegiate Invitational hosted by Olivet Nazarene University. In October the Trolls travel to Benedictine University and to Mount Mercy University. The CCAC Championships will be hosted by Judson University at Wing Park Golf Course in Elgin, Illinois on November 4.  The NCCAA National Championships are on November 11 in Jackson, Mississippi, and the NAIA National Championships for qualifiers will be held on November 18 in Vancouver, Washington.