Coach hopes JBU women have turned the cor­ner

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - SPORTS - By Gra­ham Thomas Staff Writer gth­omas@nwadg.com ■

The John Brown women’s cross coun­try team opens up its sea­son Satur­day in the Cen­tral Arkansas XC Chal­lenge in Con­way, and there’s a sense around the pro­gram that it may be des­tined for great things in 2018, ac­cord­ing to coach Scott Schochler.

“On the women’s side I think we have turned a cor­ner,” Schochler said. “This sum­mer we’ve got a small core group com­ing back, six girls re­turn­ing out of 14. The other 8 are new. So that changes the fla­vor of the team, changes the dy­nam­ics. The core group we have com­ing back, they put in a lot of work last spring.”

In fin­ish­ing sixth in the Sooner Ath­letic Con­fer­ence in 2017, the Golden Ea­gles had plenty of con­sis­tent per­for­mances, but they never had a break­through.

“We’re just right there very close to hav­ing a break­through per­for­mance with our women that will jump start the women’s team,” Schochler said.

JBU re­turns its No. 1 run­ner from most of last sea­son in sopho­more Sarah Lar­son (5-4, Wi­chita, Kan.).

“Sarah had a very good fresh­man sea­son last year, solid races all the way through,” Schochler said.”She has come into this sea­son ready to go and looked strong in work­outs. She’s one I’m ex­pect­ing to have a break­through per­for­mance early in the sea­son to lead the team. She’s a lot more com­fort­able be­ing a team leader in tak­ing on that role.”

Se­nior Rea­gan Roth (5-3, Edmond, Okla.) is the “el­der states­man of the women’s team” her coach said.

“She’s re­ally en­cour­aged the other women to put the work in,” Schochler said. “We’re look­ing to her for se­nior lead­er­ship and more solid per­for­mances like she’s given us through­out her ca­reer.”

Roth is one of five se­niors on the JBU ros­ter.

Se­nior Han­nah Fiser (57, Lit­tle Rock) is back and looks more com­fort­able after run­ning col­lege races for the first time last sea­son.

“She’s had some re­ally good work­outs,” Schochler said. “Just that year of ex­pe­ri­ence will help her have a good se­nior year.”

Se­nior Kylie Tucker (5-8, Kansas City, Mo.) could be one of the Golden Ea­gles’ top three or four run­ners, Schochler said.

“She loves to com­pete and gets very ex­cited to be com­pet­ing, whether at work­outs or meets,” he said.

Se­nior Ha­ley New­comb (5-6, Bo­li­var, Mo.) gives JBU an­other con­sis­tent run­ner.

“She gives you ev­ery­thing she has ev­ery day,” Schochler said.

Se­nior Erin Green (5-9, Edmond, Okla.) has made huge progress since she was a fresh­man, her coach said.

“Erin just keeps putting the work in, show­ing up ev­ery day,” Schochler said. “We love her ef­fort, and love the work she puts in.”

JBU has eight new­com­ers to the team in 2018.

Among the top is fresh­man Al­lika Pear­son of Siloam Springs, who helped lead the Lady Pan­thers to four 6A state ti­tles in her four years with the cross coun­try pro­gram.

“I’m ex­cited to see what Al­lika does,” Schochler said. “She had a very good se­nior sea­son here in Siloam Springs and just con­tin­ued to run bet­ter through­out sum­mer and into this fall.

“She’s been one of our top two or three run­ners from day one and I think she’ll re­ally push Sarah and Rea­gan hope­fully help set the tone for our women’s pro­gram.”

Emilie As­beck (Ozark) is aca­dem­i­cally a se­nior, but el­i­gi­bil­ity-wise she is listed as a fresh­man. She’s been train­ing with the Golden Ea­gles all spring and sum­mer.

“She’s looked great in work­outs and been one of our top three run­ners,” Schochler said. “Hope­fully she picks up the rac­ing very quickly.

Sopho­more El­iz­a­beth Brownell (5-5, Hi­awatha, Iowa) at­tended JBU last year and re­cently joined the cross coun­try team.

“She doesn’t have much race ex­pe­ri­ence other than com­mu­nity 5Ks,” Schochler said. “The learn­ing curve for her is go­ing to be steep, but she’s a sharp enough kid and is will­ing to put in the work. She’s go­ing to be able to con­trib­ute with­out any prob­lem.

Ju­nior Molly Brown­well, El­iz­a­beth Brownell’s sis­ter, is sim­i­lar to her younger sis­ter.

“We hope that both by end of this year will be con­tribut­ing to the scor­ing of our team,” Schochler said. “Hope­fully this year they’ll learn how to race and start hav­ing some good per­for­mances.”

Fresh­man Re­becca Cham­ber­lain (5-9, Ev­er­green, Colo.) is fight­ing for a top five spot, Schochler said. She was a strong run­ner in high school, he said, be­fore hav­ing in­jury set­backs.

“Now she’s healthy and run­ning well,” he said.

Fresh­man Mor­gan Evans (McKin­ney, Texas) is in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion at the Brownell sis­ters in that she doesn’t have a lot of race ex­pe­ri­ence, but she’s very ea­ger to learn how to race, her coach said.

Fresh­man Olivia Lisle (Spring­dale) ran at Har-Ber in high school.

“She’s come into the sea­son in great shape as a fresh­man,” Schochler said. “She’s mak­ing that ad­just­ment to col­lege, but she could be in the top six to seven run­ners and con­tinue to im­prove through­out the year.”

Fresh­man Rachel Thomp­son is an­other Siloam Springs XC alum, hav­ing grad­u­ated in 2017 be­fore tak­ing a year off from school and run­ning.

“She’s picked up where she left off,” Schochler said. “She’s trained well all sum­mer and kept up with the mid­dle to front of the team with­out any prob­lem. Once she gets re-ac­cli­mated to rac­ing, she’ll solid per­former for us.”

Photo sub­mit­ted

Se­nior Rea­gan Roth is one of five se­niors on the John Brown Univer­sity women’s cross coun­try team.

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