WAVERLY, IA – This past weekend, on Saturday, Sept. 29, the Loras cross country team took a day trip to Waverly, IA, to compete at Wartburg College’s Max Championship cross country course. This is the site of the Central Region’s 2018 and 2019 regional competitions, which determine which teams compete at nationals. The Loras team traveled with the intent of previewing the course at the Dan Huston Invitational and racing against teams they would later see at the regional competition.
On the men’s side, the Loras men’s team placed third out of 19 teams, after Wartburg and St. Thomas. Coming in first for the Duhawk men was junior Patrick Wolak, with a time of 25:52. Following Wolak were junior Cole Conklin-Little, senior Jack Carroll and Preston Kauder, sophomores Luke Guttormson, Blake Keller, and Joey Schultz. The spread between the top four finishing runners was only 11 seconds, which is promising for future success as the top four runners can push each other to faster times and higher places.
“We ran better today than two weeks ago at Notre Dame,” said Katie McDermott, assistant coach of the team, after the race. “We had an idea that Wartburg would be on top. St. Tomas—to me—was unexpected, but we’ll get them later. To see Cornell at the meet was also a good experience for us. They have a decent squad and we were ahead of them today, which was good.”
On the women’s side, the Loras women’s team came in fourth out of 19 teams with 127 points, after Wartburg, Gustavus Adolphus, and Grinnell. This was an improvement from last year, where the women’s team came in seventh out of 12 teams with 184 points. This marks the level of progress the women’s team has already seen this season, and points to a strong finish at the end of the season, when place matters more than the first few races of the season.
“I think we finished right where we expected to finish,” said McDermott. “I wanted to see how close we would be to Wartburg, Gustavus Adolphus, and Grinnell. Wartburg was really out there, points-wise, but the next two teams in front of us are close. If we’re close now, we can get them at the end of the year.”
As for individual results, sophomore Kassie Rosenbum came in second with a time of 22:38. Following Rosenbum was a tightly-packed group including sophomore Brianna Renner, senior Audrey Miller, junior Courtney Knight, and first years Cam Reeg, Maggie Bald, and Emma Earles. The spread from the second to sixth runners on the team was only five seconds; the spread from two through seven was 15 seconds.
“It’s fun to see how good our team is this year,” junior Courtney Knight said after the race. “Our first-years are a speedy bunch.”
Seven runners constitute a varsity team in cross country, even though the entire team races at the same time. One exciting top-seven breakthrough at this meet was Knight, who ran as Loras’ seventh runner with a time of 24:33. While the team strategy is to race “tired” until the post-season and not expect big personal records until the end of the season, Knight had an excellent race and attributed it to all the work she’s been putting in.
“I knew we’ve been putting in a lot of work,” Knight said. “We’ve had a month and a half of working hard at practice. When we get to races, I like running where I start in the back and then catch up. It’s more exciting that way, where you can see yourself catching up.”
Knight was also the only female runner to run 1000 kilometers in consecutive days over the summer (1000 km = 620 miles). On the men’s side, Ryan “Murph” Murphy, Nathan “Goose” Goslin, Patrick “Skeeter” Wolak, Preston “Prestonland” Kauder, Cole Conklin-Little, and Joey “Packerfan” Schultz accomplished the men’s goal of running 1000 miles (or more, in most cases) over the course of one summer.
As for upcoming races, the Duhawks are excited about the dropping temperatures and the anticipation of big races coming up. This weekend, on Friday, Oct. 5, the Duhawks will be heading to the Dubuque soccer complex for their annual home meet. Next weekend, they will be getting on a bus bound for Oshkosh, WI, where they will preview the course which will be hosting the 2018 national cross country championships in Nov.