Cross country team welcomes new head coach

By Jesse Mayfield and Michael Sprague

The cross-country program took on a full-on NCAA makeover for the 2012 season.

The program announced in June that Randy Cole will be the new head coach of the men’s and women’s cross-country programs. He started working at LU as an assistant coach last year and was offered the head coaching position this summer. Cole will also serve as an assistant to the track and field teams.

Cole brings 24 years of experience as a collegiate cross country head coach. The previous eight were spent at the University of Wyoming. Cole also spent eight years at Kansas State University and 12 years at Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas.

When asked what factors led to choosing Lindenwood over other offers, Cole said he “took the job because of the transition and more opportunities. The program is gaining more structure and is receiving high marks meeting standards set by the NCAA.”

Still making the transition, the Lions won’t be eligible for the postseason in 2012. Cole doesn’t see this as a setback. “From day one of the season we’ve said we want to be as competitive as possible in each level,” Cole said. “We have good attitudes every day and are setting goals for the future.”

One of those goals is to increase the number of runners.

“Sometime in the near future we hope to reach anywhere from 12 to 15 runners on both the men’s and women’s side,” Cole said.

With only six female runners currently, two of whom are seniors, Cole will rely on his NCAA experience to haul in future recruits.

As for the current team, they are already feeling the impact of a new season.

Lindenwood sent all six female runners to the Washington University Early Bird run in Forest Park on Saturday, Sept. 1. They finished fourth out of 17 teams.

Senior Tanya Chibanda has been a top runner for the Lady Lions. “Coach and I set a goal for me today to finish top 10 and to just build from there,” Chibanda said post-race. She finished fifth out of 140 runners with a time of 15:23.7.

Finishing 22nd overall with a time of 16:05.7 was Junior Courtney Heidorn.

Heidorn said what she has noticed most about Cole is his energy. “He is really loud with his feedback during practice and at races and it’s always in a positive way,” Heidorn said. “He’s a great support on the sideline.”

The men ran a 6000 meter long race and finished 12th.  Junior Ben McGraw finished 13th for the men with a time of 20:00.9. Along with him was freshman Brady Novak who finished 44th with a time of 20:57.2.

With the results from this first race, Cole has a place to start with the athletes and can figure out where they are at and how they need to start training to get ready for upcoming meets throughout the season.

The cross country team will compete this Saturday, Sept. 15 at 8:30 a.m. in Joplin, Mo.

For more information on the runners and a complete schedule, visit lindenwoodlions.com.