After winning the first Northwest Conference men’s cross country championship in 38 years, junior Tyler Shipley finished the season one place off from making it to the NCAA Division III Championships.
Shipley placed 16th at the NCAA West Regional Championships, which made him the No. 8 individual finisher that was not a member of the top two teams.
While Shipley won’t be traveling to compete in the national championships, he finished out the season earning All-West Region honors.
After having won five individual NWC championships and making it to the NCAA Division III Championships during his sophomore and freshman years, Shipley said it was a really tough loss for him.
“It wasn’t that great of a race for me,” Shipley said. “It’s kind of been a rough season but it was nice to have a positive aspect to it.”
On the women’s side, Freshman Stephanie Spencer placed 30th, five seconds off of her best time.
The men’s team placed 17th and the women’s team placed 15th out of all the Northwest Conference teams at the regional meet.
Head Cross-Country Coach Brent Eriksen taking the program over, it was a season of rebuilding for Shipley and his teammates.
Shipley said the team is made up of almost entirely freshmen.
Eriksen said the young dynamics of the team made the season a challenge and that the team spends a lot of their days working toward next year.
“Training with Eriksen is different than what I’m used to,” Shipley said. “It’s a lot more structured and focused on bringing the team up as a whole than individual performance.”
Shipley said Eriksen’s approach to the team aspect changed the atmosphere substantially and the social part of the team improved a lot over the season.
Being the fastest and oldest runner on the men’s team, Shipley said he has had to rise to more of a leadership role this season.
To add to the struggles of the young team, Shipley said he came down with the flu during the Willamette Invitational and it took him three weeks to recover.
Even with several downsides to the season, Shipley finished as one of the top runners in Pacific history.
“Tyler is great. He is everything you want in an athlete,” Eriksen said. “He’s a great athlete and a great leader.”
Shipley said that, while he enjoyed the recognition and felt his loss hard, the spotlight is not his motivation for running.
“I just really enjoy running,” Shipley said. “It’s a huge passion of mine.”
Looking toward next year, Eriksen said recruiting is going really well. He said he has a two-week recruiting trip planned to boost numbers for the upcoming season.
While the cross country season concluded, there is little rest for Eriksen, Shipley and several other runners with the indoor track season just beginning.
After his success during the 2013-2014 track season, Shipley said he is planning to try to mimic his performances and become an all-American.