By: Kami Rieck
Being named the 13th best team in the state last season didn’t meet the satisfaction of the Concordia boys cross country team, and 2015 SAC title made them that much more hungry.
The cross country team didn’t seem to lose its momentum going into this season, despite losing six seniors. Instead, they actually seemed to have higher aspirations than any other previous cross country team at Concordia.
“It was hard losing David (Ehlers), but it made us work harder. We worked really hard during track season and especially during summer to do even better this year than we did last year,” says junior Matthew Ruppert.
Newcomer Coach Scott Steffen replaced Coach Gregg Osborn as the head coach of u the boys and girls cross country teams this year at Concordia.
“We followed his (Steffen’s) plan, which was running more miles and doing harder workouts, and even though it was hard sometimes, we trusted that it would help us reach our goals,” says Ruppert.
Their theme, “Be Intentional,” motivated them to put forth their greatest effort in each run, practice and competition to better themselves as athletes.
“I think this (theme) helped us to keep pushing to be better everyday and at every race,” explains senior leader Alex Amaro. “Looking back from last year, going to state this year again with this team was a for sure option. Knowing this, I made my goal and work ethic based on making an appearance to state again.”
Seniors Noah Steffen, Alex Amaro and freshmen Reece Gibson were all selected as 1st Team 3A All-State by the Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches.
The Cadets made a strong appearance at their first meet by placing first at the Huntington North Invitational. The team continued to place high in each competition, and they worked hard to turn their goals into reality by earning the SAC title for the second year in a row with senior Noah Steffen placing first. The victories didn’t come to a halt as they entered sectionals.
The Cadets claimed second place at sectionals and regionals and placed fourth at the semi-state meet, which qualified the team to compete in the state finals.
Steffen led the Cadets once again by placing first in sectionals and regionals.
“Winning both sectionals and regionals was a huge blessing. Being able to win those races against such high-level competition was electrifying and definitely prepared me for state,” he said.
With three freshmen, one junior and three seniors, this team was capable of accomplishing what has never been achieved by any previous Concordia cross country team: Standing on the podium with fifth place medals around their necks.
“It’s good to know that the training we put in from the beginning of the summer to the start of the fall has paid off with a podium finish,” shares Alex Amaro. “This is something that the team and I will remember for the rest of our lives. Glad I got to experience this and make history at Concordia with the boys.”