Coach hopes JBU women have turned the corner
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.”
Senior Reagan Roth is one of five seniors on the John Brown University women’s cross country team.