The past few weekends, the Loras cross country team has done their fair share of traveling to meets around the Midwest. On Saturday, Sept. 8, the Duhawks made their debut at the Luther All-American meet in Decorah. The Duhawks’ meet at Nebraska Wesleyan that was scheduled for that weekend was cancelled due to immense rainfall that covered the Prairie Wolves’ home course with six inches of rain. Since the Nebraska course wasn’t suitable for running, head coach Bob Schultz made the executive decision to race at Luther instead.
“I didn’t know what to expect, and it was a last-minute decision to go there, so it was more just to get our feet wet and get the experience of racing again,” Schultz said. Despite the last-minute change, the team performed well. Both men and women placed third overall. The Duhawks were beaten only by non-ARC teams and — on the women’s side — a nationally-ranked St. Thomas team.
One weekend later, the team traveled to Notre Dame for the National Catholic Championships. This meet was held on Friday, Sept. 14, at Notre Dame University. There were 29 teams from all divisions participating. For the purpose of fairer scoring, results were split between D1 schools and non-D1 schools when calculating team scores. The conditions were hot, with the temperature peaking at 83 degrees during the races, and minimal shade for the athletes. Despite the weather conditions, the Duhawks performed well.
The lady Duhawks had an excellent day, placing sixth out of 15 non-D1 teams. In the 5k, sophomore Kassie Rosenbum was the first Duhawk to cross the finish line, with a time of 18:48, putting her 32nd overall, and on the list of the top-ten 5k times in Loras history. When the final scores appeared she was ranked fourth out of all the non-D1 runners.
“It was a shock to me because there were so many girls in front of me,” Rosenbum said, “but I didn’t know what division they were in. Starting out slow—that helped a lot. It was really hot, and once I was done [racing] I could really feel it.”
This is Rosenbum’s debut year with the Loras team. She has proved to be a phenomenal athlete, in running and also in mindset.
“During the race I kept thinking of my favorite motivational quote from Rocky Balboa,” Rosenbum said. “It ain’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. I knew if I wanted to reach my goals, I would have to push myself. Staying up with the front girls would be hard, but worth it.”
The next four Loras women to cross the finish line were first-years Cam Reeg and Maggie Bald, senior Audrey Miller, and first-year Emma Earles. They were within eight seconds of each other—great news, as these ladies accounted for runners two through five in the lineup—while the spread from two through seven (including senior Kemunto Ondande and junior captain Molly MacDuff) were within thirty seconds. Since seven runners make a full varsity team, it’s an awesome sign that the lady Duhawks were able to run together this early in the season. Coach Schultz was pleased about this..
“I’m happy with how the first two races went for the women. I feel like with such a young team, we’re in a good spot right now,” Schultz said. “Health-wise, our injured girls are progressing and increasing their mileage. Training is going well; overall, the women are progressing nicely. Getting sixth today didn’t bother me; I didn’t know any of those teams, so it didn’t really matter to me where we ended up. Who shows up is beyond our control.”
On the men’s side, the Duhawks finished second out of 18 non-D1 teams in the 5-mile race. Junior Cole Conklin-Little was the first Duhawk to cross the finish line in 26:22. Following Conklin-Little were first-year Luke Guttormson, senior Preston Kauder, junior Patrick Wolak, and sophomore Joey Schultz, with times of 26:44, 26:48, 26:49, and 27:08, respectively. From Coach Schultz’ point of view, this was a great second race in the season for the men.
“I was happy with today’s results,” Schultz said. “Some guys didn’t have their best races, yet we still finished second against ranked D2 and NAIA teams.” This is good news for the men’s cross country team that lost a few key seniors last spring. Nevertheless they are looking to accomplish big things this season.