Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lady Brave runners are all-around student-athletes

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 11/13/2013

Ottawa University cross-country coach Kirk Wren looks for athletes that will be involved in other things on campus.

He feels it makes for all-around student-athletes and makes them better teammates and leaders on his teams.

Ottawa University cross-country coach Kirk Wren looks for athletes that will be involved in other things on campus.

He feels it makes for all-around student-athletes and makes them better teammates and leaders on his teams.

The Lady Brave runners is full of all-around student-athletes coupled with talent. The Ottawa women’s squad finished second by a point Saturday in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference meet.

Ottawa qualified as a team for the NAIA national meet for the second time as a team in school history. The other time was in 1998, early in Wren’s coaching career at Ottawa.

“It is a great group,” Wren said. “They are involved in lots of things on campus. They are multi-dimensional. That is the kind of kids we are looking for. We want student-athletes.

“They work hard academically and athletically. They have gotten along really well. These girls jelled together. They had a focus point. Everybody had position on the team. They accepted it ... embraced it.

“It all came together. They have seen all the hard work has paid off. They have good reputation academically. They are still an All-American academic team.”

The squad worked for a common goal: win the KCAC meet.

“They took ownership in the program,” Wren said. “We had morning and evening practice. It is a neat honor. It is an honor to represent the KCAC.”

The national meet will be Nov. 23 at the Rim Rock course in Lawrence.

“It is a historical course,” Wren said of the venue. “The atmosphere will be electric. Timing has turned out to be great for us. It is a neat accomplishment. They will have some butterflies and goosebumps when we get off the van.”

Ottawa native Jena Richardson is the lone senior on the squad. Richardson has overcome a multitude of injuries throughout her career.

“She has had some unique injuries,” Wren said. “She has overcome all of them. Jena is a good vocal leader. She is really compassionate. They listen to her. She works two jobs and keeps her grades up. She stays focused for cross-country.

“It is a great reward. She has had a fantastic senior year.”

Junior Chelsea Fullerton is a leader by example. She is a five-time national qualifier in track and cross-country. She finished fifth at the KCAC meet, her best finish.

“She has developed a kick,” Wren said. “It has changed everything. She shifted it into another gear.”

Wren expects this race to be a neat experience.

“It has been a fun year,” he said. “It is not over yet.”

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