Anna Wlodarczyk no longer is a cross-country coach without a team.
Officially, Wlodarczyk has coached the Chapman women's cross-country team since 1993, but until this year the Panthers were little more than a jogging club.
For her first season, Wlodarczyk's recruits were whoever was on campus. For her second, she was able to bring in one serious runner, Danielle Garrison, from nearby Orange High.
This year the door opened a bit more. "I had only Danielle last year," Wlodarczyk said. "Now I finally have a team."
And a pretty decent one at that. Chapman has finished second in its last two meets, including Saturday's Biola Invitational.
Garrison was the Panthers' first runner to complete the 5,000-meter course at La Mirada Regional Park, finishing seventh in 21 minutes 4 seconds. She was followed by Pilar Gordillo (ninth, 21:29), Tara McGranahan (10th, 21:30), Tracy Burrows (15th, 22:06) and Maureen Fox (17th, 22:10). Chapman finished second to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the invitational division, which included NCAA Division III and NAIA teams. Chapman finished eighth in the open division, which included Division I programs.
Chapman draws strength from its balance. "If you ask me which one is the best, I can't tell you," Wlodarczyk said. "All of them are capable of being a leader."
McGranahan, a freshman from Garden Grove High, led Chapman early in the season and Garrison, a sophomore, has been running well lately. But Gordillo, a transfer from Irvine Valley, Burrows, a senior running competitively for the first time, and Fox, a junior transfer from Shoreline College who will also play basketball, all have the potential to move up.
Garrison said her teammates have helped her motivate herself. "I'm having more fun this year because our team is pretty good," Garrison said. "We've improved a lot from last year."
It's a heartening situation for Wlodarczyk, who says she was often frustrated in her first few years at Chapman. A former world class athlete for Poland, Wlodarczyk is used to working toward being the best. At Division III Chapman, she had to learn to shoot for something short of that.
"The first few years it was 'Calm down, Anna, you shouldn't be so tough,' " said Wlodarczyk, who finished fourth in the long jump at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. "I wasn't used to working at this level."
But she has grown accustomed to the Division III ethic of placing academics ahead of athletics, and says coaching her runners is a pleasure.
"They work together in workouts so closely," Wlodarczyk said. "They are helping each other out. It's really nice to work with them."
World champion: This summer, Wlodarczyk won two gold medals at the World Veteran Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. Wlodarczyk, who has the world record for the 40-45 age group in the long and triple jumps, won those events in Buffalo.
Narrow loss: The Concordia women's volleyball team nearly pulled the upset of the Golden State Athletic Conference season when it took first-place Fresno Pacific to five games Tuesday.
Fresno Pacific (23-3, 8-0 in conference), ranked sixth in the nation in NAIA, won the first two games, 15-10, 15-9, dropped the next two, 8-15, 14-16, before winning, 15-4.
Concordia Coach George Carey said the Eagles (11-10, 1-7) are now starting to play well. After experimenting with many lineups and setters, Carey has settled on Kirstin Laird, a transfer from Northern Arizona who played at Los Alamitos High, as the setter. "She seems to know who to get the ball to," Carey said.
Tuesday, she got it to Elaini Kollias, who had 24 kills, and Jeni Hoffman, who had 16. Hoffman, a freshman from Utah, also had an ace to close out the 16-14 victory in Game 4.
Carey said the result bodes well for the second half of the conference season. "If we play the rest of our matches the way we played this one, I'd say we are definitely going to surprise some teams," he said.
Chapman quarterback Curtis Robinson will probably have season-ending knee surgery, but stands a chance to gain an extra year of eligibility, Chapman football Coach Ken Visser said.
"We've had six or seven people read the interpretation about the hardship rule," said Visser, "and everybody has come up with the same conclusion: that he does have the year."
Robinson, a senior who hasn't played since his knee was seriously sprained in the Panthers' third game, had been trying to rehabilitate the injury and hoped to return this season.
The Concordia men's basketball team, ranked as high as 10th midway through last season, is ranked 16th in the NAIA Division I preseason poll. Azusa Pacific, the only other Golden State Athletic Conference team ranked, is 14th. Fresno Pacific and Westmont were among those receiving votes.