For the Duhawk cross country teams, high stakes and big races lie ahead. Conference and Regionals are coming up after the home meet, all leading to the National Championship in Louisville, KY. Although a bid to the National Championships is hard to come by, both the men and women have been lighting up the course this season, making a run towards hopes of a Championship appearance. The men are in prime position to take names at Nationals, as they moved up to ninth in the nation, the first time the team has been ranked top 10 under Coach Schultz. The women are creeping up on their competition as well, as they linger just outside the top 35, hoping to get into that exclusive list before sectionals.
The women have made headlines this season on multiple occasions, and team as well as individual performances have been better than ever. After starting strong with a win at the Elmhurst Invitational, the women went on to achieve a perfect score at the Buena Vista Invite, and followed that up with a second place finish at Pre-Regionals. Individually, Audrey Miller has been shining all season long, with two IIAC Runner of the Week awards and an Athlete of the Week award to go along with it. First-year Averi Leitzen has been making a name for herself in her first year as a Duhawk, including an outstanding 11th place finish at Pre-Regionals while conquering her personal best by 30 seconds.
Looking ahead, Coach Schultz notes that his biggest goals for the team are to have a strong home meet, defend the IIAC Championship, and finish in the top three at Regionals. As the current top team from Iowa and the IIAC, the women are aiming for a Nationals bid that will send them to Kentucky come November.
The men have been trailblazing their way up the rankings as the weeks progress, with their ninth-place national ranking the best ever under coach Bob Schultz. The men are also ranked first in the region after the Pre-Regional meet, giving the men a feeling that a Nationals bid is nearly inevitable. The men have put out great performances from week one, and only show signs of improvement as the season continues.
A second-place finish behind the top-ranked team in the country at Elmhurst got the Duhawks off to a great start. They continued on with a top DIII finish at the National Catholic Championships and a convincing first place finish at Pre-Regionals. Junior Mason Tope has been continuing his consistent performances all season coming off of his All-American finish at Nationals last season. Senior O’Brien Nugent has also been making big strides in his performance week by week, consistently finishing top three for the Duhawks with an IIAC Runner of the Week award under his belt as well.
Coach Schultz is looking ahead with confidence in his men.
“I’m excited that the team has already brought me two firsts in my 12 years of coaching at Loras,”said Schultz.
Look for the men to come after the back half of the season strong, beginning with the home meet, and hopefully ending with a top ten finish at Nationals.
The Duhawks get back to racing at the Dubuque Soccer Complex this Friday. With it being their home meet, they hope to see as many fans as possible come out and support the men and women. Watch as they work their way towards another Conference sweep, and a strong showing at Regionals, hopefully pushing both the men and women through to Nationals.