NKU cross country wraps up successful season

Led by awarded runner J.J. Webber, the NKU men’s cross country team wrapped up a second place finish in the Atlantic Sun Conference championship on Nov. 2.

The Norse finished behind the Lipscomb Bisons cross country team. On an individual level, junior nursing major Webber finished first in the Atlantic Sun, making him the first NKU men’s cross country runner to win a conference title.

 “We started off solid this season,” said Steve Kruse, NKU cross country head coach. “We participated in the Queen City Invitational early on in the season and defeated both UC and Xavier.”

This was the first time in 30 years that the Norse defeated both the Bearcats and the Musketeers.

Kruse chose the schedule carefully, and worked to run against at least one A-Sun opponent at every meet this season. The team also participated in the Dayton Flyer 5K in August and the Greater Louisville Classic in early October.

“I just kept telling the team how good they were,” Kruse said. “I encouraged them to work hard and believe in themselves, and if they did then their dreams would come true.”

The men’s team finished 6th in A-Sun last season and the runners showed improvement by bouncing back to finish second in the conference this year.

Webber also worked hard this season to compete and according to him the hours he spent running and working out were well worth it.

“This season required a lot of hard work,” Webber said. “Whether it was running 70 miles a week starting back in the summer or weightlifting, it took many hours of work. It’s just important to stay in-shape throughout the year and improve as the season goes on.”

Junior biology major and team runner Zac Holtkamp also felt that the hard work that was put in brought about the success that the team had in 2013.

“It’s more than just practicing as a team every day,” Holtkamp said. “Sometimes our team members will have unorganized practices and then finish up with breakfast.”

Heading into next season, the team expects to contend again for the conference title and continue to compete at the Division I level.

“We will only be graduating one senior for next season,” Kruse said. “We will have the main cast of people back, and we expect to contend again in 2014.”

Cross country team members Webber and Holtkamp also expect continued success for the Norse runners next season.

“For me, I am looking for another strong individual finish,” Webber said “At the same time, our team surprised everyone this season, and I think we want to do that again next year.”

For Holtkamp, he also looks to build on his individual success from 2013.

“I made all-conference second team this season,” Holtkamp said. “I want to continue to improve in the off-season and come back strong next fall.”

For many of the runners, preparations for track season will be beginning in the next few weeks, and they are looking for their success from this fall to carry over into next spring.