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Pella Christian builds cross country programs on younger runners

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 10:59 a.m. CDT

PELLA — Pella Christian High School’s cross country teams compete in Iowa Class 2A district meets but they run in the Little Hawkeye Conference, against mainly 3A and 4A teams. Jocelyn Meinders, head cross country coach for the Eagles, believes the tough competition throughout the season will help the PCHS squads when it comes to the 2013 Class 2A district meet.

“The conference is tough. We have mainly juniors and freshmen on our teams this year, so I expect to see improvement among our returning runners and our new athletes progress as the season goes along,” Meinders said.

The Eagle boys and girls open the 2013 cross country season at an invitational meet hosted by Pella Community High School at Central College in Pella on Saturday, Sept. 7. The races begin at 11 a.m.

Pella Christian has two returning varsity runners and three returning runners from the junior varsity for the Eagle girls. Juniors Marina Shannon and Darmaris Worthington ran on the PCHS varsity. Junior Alicia Munoz, who was a transfer student a year ago and could only run junior varsity, is expected to give the Eagles a boost on varsity this season.

Briana Van Donselaar and Chinese foreign exchange student Xu Yadi, both sophomores, ran junior varsity a year ago. Senior Haylie Van Maanen is out for the team as are juniors Morgan Anderson and Danielle Nardini.

Sophomore Abby Van Soelen is another addition to the team. Freshmen Andrea Carballo and Chloe Demski round out the team going into the season.

“We’re excited about the numbers we have out for the girls’ team this year. We should be able to run a full varsity team in meets. We weren’t able to do that last year,” Meinders said.

FOR THE EAGLE BOYS, four varsity runners are back in juniors Jacob Lensing, Jonathan Beltman, Jackson Schelhaus and Max Shannon. David Dykstra is the lone senior on the team and he ran junior varsity a year ago.

“Our juniors had a good year as sophomores. Jacob was our No. 1 runner all season with Jonathan right behind him. The two are tough competitors and refuse to quit out there,” Meinders said.

Pella Christian has one sophomore on the team in Zack Shen. Then it comes down to nine freshmen. They are Samuel Dahm, Scott Haveman, Ryan Howey, Lucas Jansen, Max Kolb, Sam Lensing, Colin Stravers, Jaden Wilson and Grant Dunsbergen.

“There’s a lot of potential in the mix of juniors and freshmen for the boys. We saw such an improvement in our four juniors a year ago so we expect that to happen with this group of talented freshmen,” Meinders said. “We could be good this year, but next year, could be a very good season.

“They will be bigger and stronger. They’ll know how to train over the summer and this season is one of them learning how to race at the high school level.”

Junior Zhu Ceyuan Far is the team’s manager.

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