Luther College Chips

Cross country begins season at home with the 46th annual All-American Invitational

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Cross country begins season at home with the 46th annual All-American Invitational

Katherine Hoffman (‘20) placed 21st  in the women’s collegiate cross country race at the 46th annual All-American Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 8.

Katherine Hoffman (‘20) placed 21st in the women’s collegiate cross country race at the 46th annual All-American Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 8.

Photo courtesy of Photo Bureau

Katherine Hoffman (‘20) placed 21st in the women’s collegiate cross country race at the 46th annual All-American Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 8.

Photo courtesy of Photo Bureau

Photo courtesy of Photo Bureau

Katherine Hoffman (‘20) placed 21st in the women’s collegiate cross country race at the 46th annual All-American Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 8.

Aidan O'Driscoll, Staff Writer

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The Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams placed seventh and fourth at the 46th annual All-American Invitational held at Luther on Saturday, Sept. 8. This was the first competitive race of the season as the St. Mary’s University Open had to be cancelled due to inclement weather.

The All-American serves a dual purpose. It is a competitive race for current athletes, but also a celebration of former Luther runners, community, and cross country.

With over 2,000 runners ranging from middle school athletes to collegiate athletes and college alums, there was a variety of competition.

Coaches, friends and family members trotted from one part of the course to the next, cheering, whooping and hollering to support the athletes.

Women’s Cross Country Co-Captain Ananda Easley (‘19) first heard of the All-American her junior year of high school when she attended Luther’s distance running camp. She received encouragement when she ran in the All-American as a senior in high school.

“Some of the counselors would line up and cheer for all of us, so we actually knew some of them as we went by,” Easley said. “Ever since then, the All-American has been this place where you get to see familiar faces and celebrate running together.”

Reflecting on running the All-American as a senior in college, Easley added that, “now, the Luther Cross Country team is more of a family than I could ever ask for.”

Easley’s story of how she became acquainted with the traditions of Luther Cross Country is similar to other athletes. Men’s Cross Country Co-Captain Jonah Gehrt (‘19) also experienced the All-American in high school.

“Starting out in high school it’s just another meet. I didn’t think too much of it,” Gehrt said. “But, when I came to college and began learning about the history of the races, such as how each race is named after an All-American, like the ‘Serres annual 5k’, it was much more meaningful.”

Aidan O’Driscoll (‘19) | Chips
Moments after the gun went off, beginning the men’s collegiate cross country race at the 46th annual All-American Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 8.

Tricia Serres (‘16) is one of the All-American runners honored with the Spoon-Serres All-American race. Serres was at this year’s meet to watch her younger brother compete in the Glessner-Livingood-Olson-Sandness All-American race.

Serres was honored to have the race named after her.

“I ran here in high school and just thought it was so amazing. You come here and you work really hard and you become one of the athletes. Now, my name is there, right on the program,” Serres said.

“It is something that hopefully can be there for a long time and help keep the longstanding tradition of this sport and its’ community alive.”

The passion for the sport, the sense of camaraderie and the familial atmosphere that Easley, Gehrt and Serres speak of is exemplified in Luther’s style of running: pack running. This is a technique wherein teams of runners establish groups while racing. These packs help runners keep pace.

“It is ‘the Luther race’, it’s what we like to call our method of running,” Gehrt said. “The pack racing and pack mentality that Luther instills teaches runners to control their emotions for the first half of the race and then start really hunting guys down at the end of the race when everyone else is hurting. It’s about running an intellectual race instead of an emotional race.”

Luther’s top women performers were Kat Hoffman (‘20), who placed 21st with a time of 20:27.1, and Vera Lindhorst (‘20), who placed 22nd with a time of 20:36.8. Alum Kenzie Carney (‘18) finished 15th with a time of 20:08.4 and alum Sarah Owens (‘17) placed 17th with a time of 20:16.1.

Top men’s performers from Luther were Alex Streitz (‘19) who finished 26th with a time of 21:47.4 and Collin Kern (‘19) who finished 34th with a time of 21:59.4.

Alum Patrick Larson (‘17) finished eighth with a time of 20:53.7 and alum John Donovan (‘16) finished tenth with a time of 20:57.3.

Larson felt that thedre was a deep meaning to the meet.

“It is really more than just the race,” Larson said. “It is really a testament to our tight-knit community that our cross country team is and has established.”

After the final race, friends, family and alumni gathered for a celebratory barbecue outside of the Regents Center. Together, they celebrated one last time, until next year’s race, as a collective, a group of people who have a distinct passion for running: a pack.

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