Spurgeon College adds men’s and women’s cross country to intercollegiate sports


KANSAS CITY, Mo—Spurgeon College recently announced the addition of Men’s and Women’s Cross Country to its intercollegiate athletics programs. Abel Spalding has been appointed as head coach.

“I am very thankful to announce our new cross country program at Spurgeon College,” said President Jason Allen. “Our athletic programs continue to thrive, and key to their success has been our head coaches. Thus, I am grateful for Abel Spalding and am excited for him to build our program.”

Originally from Columbus, Indiana, Coach Spalding graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Exercise Science and a minor in Coaching. Throughout his time in college, he led the school’s cross country and track teams as team manager, competed as a runner, and served as coach of the school’s running club.

Since graduating, Spalding has served as a coach with Run Free Training, an online coaching service working with runners on a variety of distance goals, from the mile to the ultramarathon.

He spoke to his excitement launching the cross country program at Spurgeon College, saying, “This position is unique because it allows me to lead the team with a Christ-focused mindset and disciple my athletes as much as guide them through the sport.”

“Building the program from scratch allows me to develop team culture, values, and goals that are organic to the team and reflect positively on the school. Also, I have been exploring Kansas City since I’ve arrived, and I’m excited to share several great running spots with the team!”

With recruiting as the immediate focus, Coach Spalding aims to build a championship culture within the cross country teams at Spurgeon College.

He said, “Goal setting is a prevalent part of running, and it is an important piece in developing a roadmap to get where you want to go. My focus right now is to bring in athletes with a Christ-centered growth mindset who are hard workers and devoted to developing team culture. With these types of athletes, I believe we will be competing for the national title within the next couple of years.”

As Spalding shared, a championship team begins with a championship culture. His top priorities in building a strong team will be to emphasize community, excellence, and glorifying God through the sport.

Spalding said, “Spurgeon Athletics stands out to me as a tight-knit community that loves to compete and glorify the Lord through sport. I was drawn to Spurgeon because of this culture and the opportunity to not only do what I love in coaching runners but also to minister to athletes throughout the process. I believe in the staff here and know that our Athletics program is in good hands.”

Dean of Spurgeon College Sam Bierig shared his own anticipation for all Coach Spalding will bring to the athletics culture at Spurgeon College.

Bierig said, “We are thrilled to begin cross country as the newest athletics venture at Spurgeon College. Excellence is always the goal in Spurgeon College’s athletics program, which is why Coach Spalding is uniquely equipped to lead. He will be able to lead our Knights quickly through the foundation building stage and into a competitive position alongside the top cross country teams within the NCCAA.”

Matt Risher, athletics director at Spurgeon College, added, “Coach Spalding brings energy and excitement to our coaching staff. I look forward to working with Abel to start a men’s and women’s cross-country team at Spurgeon College. I have no doubt that, under Coach Spalding’s leadership, the cross-country programs will resemble the values and standards of excellence exhibited by our current men’s and women’s teams.”

He went on to say, “Spurgeon College athletics continues to grow along with Spurgeon College. The addition of another athletic team shows the institution’s health under the leadership of President Allen and Dean Bierig. We aim to be the premier Christian college in the country, and athletics plays a significant role in accomplishing this goal. Our athletic programs’ growth and godliness help shape Spurgeon College’s culture and make the time students spend here an enjoyable and formative experience.”

To learn more about Spurgeon College, visit spurgeoncollege.com.