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Softball duo saves athletic program

by Ano Puchalski, staff writer

 

Two HPU softball players got off of the diamond and onto a different field when they signed up to be the “designated runners” for HPU’s cross country team. Junior DH/outfielder Jennifer Baron and senior pitcher Mallory Anderson agreed to run for HPU after learning the team was short two runners.

Anderson and Baron’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Head Coach Christian Friis, who was faced with the reality that anymore race incompletion could result in some harsh penalties from the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association).

Jennifer Baron

 

“They saved the season,” said Friis, “You need five runners to complete five races and we only had three.”

Jasmine Stevenson, a 5-8 junior from Kilauea, Hawai‘i (Big Island), briefly joined the cross country team to run one race for the Sea Warriors. Stevenson plays for HPU’s women’s soccer team.

Mallory Anderson

 

NCAA rules for Division II programs says that all teams within a University must meet the minimum requirements of having enough players to successfully complete a race.

Each team is allowed only so many forfeitures before penalties are imposed, possibly affecting other sports and not just the team involved.

Penalties could result in the forfeiture of any national or regional titles earned within that season by any and all sports programs within that institution.

A Division II college must also carry no more and no less than a total of 10 sports (five men’s sports and five women’s sports) within any particular season.

Although three of the HPU women’s team runners ran in this year’s first three invitationals, they were unable to complete the race without the full five runners required by NCAA.

Coach Friis scrambled to find two other runners, and a third as a reserve, who were willing to fill the necessary positions.

Although Baron and Anderson had never been on a cross country team before, they were no strangers to running, as softball also carries out a “strict” workout regimen that includes strenuous running. The two agreed to run for Friis despite short notice.

Baron and Anderson went with the cross country team on the road to compete in the Montana State University Invitational, held in Billings, just one week after joining the team.

Baron, a junior from Issaquah, Washington, is used to running a much shorter race around HPU’s softball diamond. The 5-7 business major commented that running the 5K race in Montana’s 45-degree climate was something she “wasn’t used to.” Despite the chilly temperatures, Baron said she “still managed to finish the race” in her usual time.

Baron’s softball teammate, Anderson, has had previous experience in long-distance running. The 5-10 psychology major from Santa Ana, Calif. has run in a number of major races.

“ Two years ago I ran in both ‘The Bull Dog Race,’ a 30K in Malibu, California, and ‘The Great Aloha Run’ here in Honolulu,” said Anderson. She’s also participated in Huntington Beaches ten-mile “Distance Durby” along side her mom, and plans to run in this years “Honolulu Marathon,” a 26.2 mile race. “It will be one of the biggest races I’ve run,” said Anderson. Baron jokingly refers to Anderson as “a running machine.”

It is definitely a balancing act for Anderson and Baron as they manage to play two collegiate-level sports within the same season, while still maintaining their GPAs, and holding up their commitment to their own team.

 

 

 

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