Runner strides into new territory

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Athletes sometimes choose the sport they play based on their family background, what their friends are playing or just to have fun. Never knowing what is to come with playing these sports or how long they will continue to participate in the sport, they make a decision and a commitment.

Senior cross-country runner Jennifer Mallen had a different situation that affected her decision to run.
Mallen came from a family of athletes and was often compared to her cousins. At the start of her high school career, Mallen was given the choice of either having to take a physical education course or variance that requirement with a course in the school sports program.

“I just did an ‘innie minnie miney moe’ with the school program, and it landed on cross-country, so that is how I decided,” Mallen said.

Fast-forward a few years and Mallen, still running on cross-country teams, transferred from Concordia University to California Baptist University to compete her senior year.

Mallen was unhappy with the direction of the program at Concordia after three years and made the decision to no longer participate in cross-country.

It was not until July 2012 that she applied to CBU and was accepted into both the school and the cross- country program.

Mallen said she was nervous when she began her senior year with the Lancers this fall. She worried about the change and what she should expect for the new school year.

“When I first started coming here, I was freaking out. I hadn’t met anyone on the team. I didn’t meet anyone until I moved onto campus,” Mallen said. “I was wondering, ‘Are they going to like me? Or am I going to like them?’”

But once she began practicing with the Lancers, she said she was given a warm welcome as everyone was kind and immediately accepted the new addition to their team.

Mallen has participated in two meets this year and has already made her mark in the Lancers record books. Mallen emerged as one of the headlining runners at the recent Lancer Invitational, beating 61 other runners in the women’s 5k run.

Not only did she lead the runners at the race, but she also broke the school and course record with a time of 17:56. She surpassed the old program record of 18:04 that was set in the 2010 season by Jacquie Lutz.

Mallen’s achievement helped push the women’s team to a strong second place finish at the invitational.

Mallen’s performance at the upcoming Pacific West Conference championships will determine if she is eligible for the National Christian College Athletic Association championship meet on Nov. 10.

Reflecting on her journey from the start of her athletic career in cross-country, Mallen has learned all aspects of the sport and gained a great amount of experience.

“God works in funny ways sometimes. I learned to not worry as much and just let God handle it. He has a plan for everyone,” Mallen said.

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