Cross-country teams outperform several Division I programs at National Catholic Championships

 

Maggie Saenz-Ruiz was named the IIAC Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week for her performance this  past weekend.
Maggie Saenz-Ruiz was named the IIAC Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week for her performance this
past weekend.

DUBUQUE — The men’s and women’s cross-country teams have run strong in their first three meets this season. Both teams are looking to make a return to the Division III National Championships later this year.

The Duhawks started strong right off the bat, dominating the competition in the Bull Buxton Invitational in late August. Both the men and women finished first overall in the meet. The men’s performance was especially impressive, as the first ten finishers were Loras runners. Junior Sam Whan took first, while seniors Ty Whittman and Rob Howe took second and third. On the women’s side, sophomore Maggie Saenz-Ruiz took first, while junior Brianne Cook took fourth.

“I’ve had guys get perfect scores before, but this was the first time I’ve ever had a team go one through ten in a meet,” said head coach Bob Schultz. “That was a great start to the season for the men. For the ladies, we didn’t really know what to expect. So for them to win pretty convincingly, it was a great start to the season for them as well.”

In the Dutch Invitational in Pella earlier this month, the Duhawks turned in another strong performance. On the men’s side, the Duhawks were led by Whittman (third) and Whan (fourth), and finished second as a team behind host Central College. The women finished second as well, with Saenz-Ruiz taking second place.

The Duhawks then traveled to South Bend, IN, for the National Catholic Championships at the University of Notre Dame. Among non-Division I teams, the men finished first behind Whan [third] and Wittman (fourth), while the women finished eighth behind another strong performance from Saenz-Ruiz who finished fifth. While Loras technically wasn’t competing against the Division I schools, Schultz said that if they were, his team would’ve held their own.

“They used to have combined scoring between Division I and non-Division I teams, but they took out the combined scoring,” said Schultz. “But when we combined the scoring ourselves, it turns out that we would’ve been third on the men’s side behind Notre Dame and Canisius. So we beat Dayton, we beat DePaul, we beat Marquette — all those Division I schools.”

The Duhawks will get back on the course this Saturday at the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet in Mason, OH.

“For the men, we have to keep our top guys healthy and keep working hard,” said Schultz. “For the ladies, it’s just about figuring out who we are. Maggie is an established top runner and I think Bri Cook has established herself as a very consistent number two. On both sides, we just need to keep working hard in these next few weeks before we start to taper our workload towards the end of the season.”

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