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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Cross country women find success

Published: December 6, 2013
Section: Sports

It has been 12 years since the Brandeis cross country women have reached the NCAA Division III Championships, but this year’s team finally did it. Amelia Lundkvist ’14 was the women’s top finisher.

“It was so awesome to accomplish something that has seemed impossible for the past few years,” Lundkvist said of going to nationals. “To have all of our hard work for the past few months pay off in such an amazing way is something I will never forget and always be proud of.”

Along with the team achievement, Lundkvist earned her own personal success, as she finished 21st place at nationals, making her an All-American athlete. “It still doesn’t seem real. I kept hearing coaches and people yelling at everyone around me the places they were in and I heard 30 something and I told myself, ‘I can’t miss All-American. I don’t want to regret this race.’ So I just went for it, and to cross the finish line and know I was top 35 just felt amazing. I am just so happy.”

Maddie Dolins ’17 also had a great meet, as she was UAA Rookie of the Year, as well as the ninth overall first-year finisher.

The season ended in mixed feelings, however, despite the girls’ success at nationals, as John Evans, head coach of the cross country and track and field teams announced his resignation, effective at the end of this semester. Evans has served as head coach since 2003. For two years before that, he was an assistant coach.

“John wasn’t a man of many words, but he was so genuine and so intuitive and knew so much about running,” Lundkvist said of her former coach. Evans led four teams to the NCAA Division III Championships. The men qualified from 2008 to 2010, while he took the women for his first time this year. He has coached one relay and 11 individual All-Americans and 10 UAA Rookies of the Year.

“John Evans has been such a positive member of our staff for the last decade,” Lynne Dempsey, senior associate director of athletics, said. “He has brought quality student-athletes to the Judges’ program over the years, both on the track and off.”

Evans also works as a New Balance consultant. “With my role at New Balance expanding, I felt that this was the time to focus my efforts there … this was a difficult decision, as I have loved every minute coaching at a great institution like Brandeis. I’ve worked with tremendous student-athletes over the years, hard workers and bright students. I will miss working with the Judges,” he told Brandeis Athletics.

The Judges will miss working with him as well. “We were shocked when John told us,” Lundkvist said. “I’m really going to miss him, as a coach and as a person. He has shaped me into the runner that I am today, and I couldn’t have accomplished all that I have this season without him.”

“We will miss him and wish him well,” Dempsey said, “but we are glad that we can keep the program in the family.”

His wife, Sinead Evans, will take over as interim head coach. She has been an assistant coach with the Judges for four years, working mainly with the distance and mid-distance groups. She has helped eight runners to qualify for the NCAA track and field championships.

“I’m sad [John’s] no longer with us, but I know we are still in great hands with
Sinead as coach,” Lundkvist said. The semester is ending in a whirlwind of emotion for cross country runners, but one thing is certain. “I am really happy we could go to Nationals with John for his last season, it makes it much more special,” Lundkvist said.