On Saturday, Nov. 10, the cross country team competed in Waverly, IA at the central regional championship meet hosted by Wartburg College. This meet determines which teams qualify for the national DIII cross country championship, hosted in Oshkosh, WI this year. This is a large meet which combines four conferences into one region; however, each team can only bring their varsity team which includes seven runners. The meet day was chilly, but much nicer than the high winds and snowfall which had buffeted the course the day before the race.
The women’s race started at 11 a.m., with sunshine and a temperature of 18°F. However, with the slight wind chill, it felt like 12°F. The women braved the cold and ran to a 10th place finish out of 29 teams. Kassie Rosenbum finished fourth with a time of 22:12, which is the fourth-fastest 6k time in Loras cross country history and allowed her to punch her ticket to nationals as one of seven individual qualifiers from the Central Region.
“Given the conditions with the cold weather and important race, I felt that the weather didn’t really affect anything because everyone is feeling the same way and running the same course,” Rosenbum said, when asked about her race. “The only thing that will affect you is worrying, and you can’t do that on race day because those are all negative thoughts. The only things you can do is be ready for the gun to go off, run your race right, and believe in yourself. When it gets tough, you gotta get tougher because that’s the only way you see the results you want.”
Following Rosenbum in the race were junior Courtney Knight and senior Audrey Miller, running nearly the entire race together and coming in 59th and 57th, respectively. Junior Maeve Dunaway was not far behind in 68th. First-years Emma Earles, Cam Reeg, and Maggie Bald finished 91st, 95th, and 103rd, respectively. There were 207 runners who finished the race.
The men raced an hour later, at 12 p.m. The sun had dipped behind the clouds and the weather was noticeably colder when the Duhawk men toed the line, looking to once again secure a spot at the national meet. At the end of their 8k battle, all seven men had season PR’s and the Loras men came in fifth out of 31 teams. First-year Luke Guttormson came in 19th, senior Jack Carroll, 20th; junior Patrick Wolak, 35th; junior Cole Conklin-Little, 39th; senior Preston Kauder, 41st; junior Tyler Havens, 53rd; and sophomore Joey Schultz, 63rd out of a total of 201 runners.
“I’m really happy with how both teams competed today,” Coach Bob Schultz said. “For the men, it was definitely the best race of the season. The guys gave us a shot to be a national qualifying team. On the women’s side, I’m really proud of Kassie. She’s a super tough competitor, and I admire her perseverance because she’s battled through a lot of injury and adversity this fall. It’s a fast course and we saw that in a lot of our student-athlete performances today. It was cold, but for cross country runners, it was a nice day to run fast.”
Following “Selection Sunday,” where the teams who did not automatically qualify for the national meet are selected, the men’s team found out their fifth place finish was not high enough to punch their ticket to the national meet. Therefore, the season has officially ended for everyone except Rosenbum, and for all the seniors on the team, so has their Loras cross country career.
Senior Kemunto Ondande had nothing but fond memories from being on the team.
“It’s been really fun,” she said. “We’ve made a lot of friendships along the way and we’ve all supported each other.”
Another senior and team captain, Preston Kauder said, “It hasn’t set in yet—I couldn’t have asked for more from a team effort standpoint. We had a group of five guys who moved up well together. Having everyone PR is how you want to run your regional meet.”
While the season has come to a close for most of the team, Rosenbum still has the national meet to look forward to. Catch her on the NCAA DIII national cross country championships live stream on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. to watch her compete against the top DIII runners in the country.