LINDSBORG — As students have returned to Bethany College, the sight of Swedes cross country runners out training are a prominent fixture on campus and around Lindsborg. Both the men's and women's cross country teams are specifically focusing on the meaning of “team” this season.
"Our overall theme this year is WE NOT ME!" said Aaron Yoder, who enters his first year as head coach and his fourth season with the program. "If we are lifting our teammates up while taking of our individual and personal business, we will be successful as people, students and athletes."
On the men's side, the Swedes lost three letterwinners from 2013, including key contributors Jeremiah Gerardy and Taylor Plante.
However, Bethany returns two impact runners, Zach Hartwell and Steven Ortiz. The squad will be led by Hartwell, who was named team captain for the upcoming season.
"We have a very consistent group of returners, including Zach Hartwell and Steven Ortiz," Yoder said. "I am confident the leadership skills they possess will help to facilitate a strong team concept. This season will be marked by lifting up our newcomers and improving the strengths of our veteran core."
The men's squad welcomes four top newcomers: Erving Altamirano, Cody Nuss, Ivan Perez and Robyn Hayes. Nuss was a member of Hesston’s Class 3A state championship team last fall.
"I'm very excited to add two returning middle distance runners to the cross country team, Cale Green and Robyn Haynes," Yoder said. "They will be a strong asset to the team. We have highly talented and motivated young men this year on the squad. I'm most impressed with their desire to lead and improve the team chemistry."
On the women's side, despite losing two letterwinners from last year's squad, Bethany returns four regulars.
Top returners include Kylee Martinez, Araceli Aburto, Macey Dinkel and Elizabeth Benoit. Martinez has been named team captain.
"We have such a great group of females this year,” Yoder said. "I'm encouraged for the returners leading the team this season and I'm looking forward to all the experiences we will have as a team."
Melissa Olson highlights top newcomers for the Swedes.
"Melissa will be a huge addition to the team, not only as a leader, but as a talented runner," Yoder said.
The Swedes open their season on Sept.6 at the Maple Leaf Classic, held at Baker University in Baldwin City.