The Pacific University cross country team’s season began with their season opener September 1 in a dual meet against Lewis and Clark College in Portland.

Both the men’s and women’s teams, however lost their dual meets against the Pioneers, but showed great signs of improvement from last season.

“It was a lot of fun,” head coach Matt Lydum said. “The athletes competed extremely hard and showed that they worked hard over the summer. We had a real noticeable improvement from last year, and the returning athletes demonstrated strong improvement.”

Both men’s and women’s teams have returning athletes that look to lead their teams to successful seasons.

On the men’s side, the team is led by junior Logan Naegeli who finished with a sixth place finish in the first meet of the season with a time of 21:52.7, which is a 23 second improvement from last season’s time.

On the women’s side, junior Stephenie Spencer leads the way. Spencer won the first race of the season with a time of 18:39.0. Spencer is coming off of a season in which she was honored with a First Team All-Northwest Conference selection, as well as earning an All-West Region selction.

“Both Logan and Stephenie have very high personal goals,” coach Lydum said. “They are running really well right now, so I expect great things from those two this season.”

Both teams have also brought in some fresh talent this season who will be looking to push the returners to go even faster. With the season just underway, coach Lydum has been impressed by freshman Dani Greene and Sophia O’Neal for the women’s side. For the men, freshman Nick Slenning has competed well with the returning runners.

“We have a few really talented freshmen,” coach Lydum said.  “Danny, Sophia and Nick are all real promising talents.”

The Boxers first conference meet of the season will be the Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational Oct. 1, 9:30 a.m. in Salem, Ore.

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