Although storms were in the forecast for the National Catholic Championships at Notre Dame University in South Bend, IN, the Open and Varsity races ran as scheduled, giving the Duhawks a prime chance for their first quality race this season.
The men’s team had an excited outcome in their 8K race. They defended their title as the College Division champion in such a manner that Coach Bob Schultz could not have been more thrilled.
“I was very pleased not just with the win,” Schultz said, “but with how well we ran as a team. Great pacing and pack running.”
Pack running, for those not familiar with cross country, is a method in races where teammates run with the people they practice with to motivate them throughout the race.
After losing a strong senior class last year, Schultz and the rest of the team were a little unsure about the outcome of this season, but this meet is starting to change that.
“Despite the graduation of a great class,” Schultz said, “this group is ready to be right where last year’s team left off and even improve on some of last year’s accomplishments.”
Last year, the Duhawks placed second as a team in the Division III Central Region championships earning an Automatic Qualifying bid for the National meet.
“Defend our Iowa Conference Championship title, top -2 automatic qualifying bid at the Division III Central Region Championship, and top 14 team or higher at the Division III National Championships,” Schultz answered when asked about the goals for the Duhawks. That last goal would be the highest the cross country team has ever finished at the national meet.
Meanwhile, the women’s team struggled in their 5K race by going out at a much more conservative pace than they needed to hit, Schultz said.
“We’re hoping to move up a bit from last year’s finish,” Schultz said. He remains optimistic about the team, however. “We had a couple of women run really well, but not everyone. I believe we are a much better team than where we finished on Friday.” One of the women who ran well was junior Abby Heiderscheit, who ran 20:53, dropping 43 seconds from her time at the NCC last year.
“We have some high goals (of winning their first Iowa Conference championship and qualifying for the Division III National Championships) that I believe are realistic. This (meet) is a starting point, and we will get better from here,” commented Schultz, after looking at the results.
The Duhawks compete this Friday night at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational at Augustana College.