“Running into the Future”
As the 2011 cross country season drew near, it was evident that the Geneva College men’s and women’s teams were primed to compete as full member of NCAA Division III and the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. One year later, the Golden Tornadoes have that first year of full competition under their belts and they are ready to begin building a legacy of success. “The future is now for our program,” says head coach Brian Yowler. “We have some of the best runners that Geneva has ever seen in our program right now and it’s time to start putting up results that reflect the talent on the roster.”
Geneva’s men’s team will have the luxury of being led by perhaps the fastest cross country runner in school history. Nick Edinger is one of just a handful of men to be listed on the sub-27 minute list for 8K races in his career. Three times in 2011, Edinger topped that mark on his way to an appearance at the NCAA Mideast regional meet. Unfortunately the Geneva great did not give his best performance on the regional stage with a 105th place finish and a time that did not break the 28 minute mark. “Nick is one of the best competitors I have been around in my years of racing and coaching,” says Yowler. “He is hungry to improve upon his post-season performance last year and I am fairly certain he will finish his amazing career on a very high note.” The question for Yowler is exactly who will fill in the spots behind Edinger in 2012. Geneva has a solid foursome in place that includes Edinger, Owen Struck, Charles Parker and Jacob Beschner. As far as the fifth spot in the line-up, Yowler says that question will be answered sooner than later. “We will find out who can fill that spot after the first time trail of the season,” says Yowler. “I am not willing to put a number on success just yet with that question mark looming at the five spot. We can’t afford to have a large gap between four and five if we hope to compete as a team for a conference title.”
“We are fortunate to have some great team leaders at the top on the men’s side,” says Yowler. “With Nick leading the way and our other top runners pushing each other, we have an opportunity to be in the top three in the conference and in the top 20 in our region. I am also looking forward to watching Nick perform at the NCAA Division III national meet.”
While the men’s team will be answering some early season questions, the Geneva College women’s cross country team may be looking for something even bigger. The Golden Tornadoes have their top five runners returning from last year and could have a chance to challenge for the PAC title. “Grove City is awfully good,” says Yowler. “If there was ever a year that we could challenge Grove City, it could very well be this one for our women.” The quintet of Alayna Merkle, Emily Hoobler, Shannon Rech, Heidi Steiner and Anna Kluitenberg could be among the best in the PAC. “If we were running on paper, this women’s team could be the best ever assembled,” says Yowler. “But races aren’t run on paper so it will be up to these ladies to live up to some lofty expectations.” Yowler is cautiously optimistic about how the 2012 women’s team will stack up in the history of Geneva women’s cross country. “If they all have good summers and perform well at the end of the season, we will be better than the 2006 team that unofficially won the PAC title before it was eligible.”
Another cause for optimism will be addition of freshman Sarah Meek from Akron, OH. Meek finishes tenth in the state of Ohio in the 3200 meter run as a senior. She should be someone that will contribute immediately near the top of the team. “Sarah is an exciting addition to our team,” says Yowler. “She will help to push everyone to go a little faster. I think she can enjoy an outstanding career for our program.”
Having one of the fastest runners in school history on the men’s side along with one of the strongest women’s team in recent history, the Geneva College cross country teams will be an exciting group to watch throughout the fall months. Both teams have turned in some outstanding performances in the past and the 2012 season should provide more of the same. Both teams are building a legacy that will provide a standard of excellence for the future. The future Geneva cross country teams may have a tough act to follow as the Golden Tornadoes of 2012 are primed to run into the record books.
Geneva graduates pass the test for teacher certification in elementary education (Praxis II) at over a 99% rate in the first attempt–one of the highest pass rates in Pennsylvania.