The Duhawk cross-country teams continued their success on both the men’s and women’s sides as they competed in the Loras College Invitational, as well as the Iowa Conference championships over the past two weeks.
The Duhawks started their push for a strong finish to the second half of their season by taking first place on both the men’s and women’s sides at the Loras Invitational for the second consecutive year. The Duhawk women set the tone by taking first place at the meet, despite the absence of their top runner, Maggie Saenz-Ruiz, who was scratched shortly before the race. Junior Bri Cook handled the leading role for the Duhawks, finishing third among the pack. Cook’s finish was her third in the top 15 in the year. Sophomore Lindsey Gidel followed with a sixth place finish, marking her best placement all season. A couple of seniors were next for the Duhawks, as Becky Hilby finished eighth and Hallie Martin finished ninth. The women’s strong performance earned them 39 team points, securing a 10-point lead over the Simpson Storm and retaining their crown at the Loras Invitational.
The men’s team won their second consecutive title at the Loras Invitational by recording a perfect score for the second time this season. Ty Wittman led the Duhawks by running the 8k course in 25:37.5. The Duhawks took the first seven spots in the meet, giving them a perfect score of 15. Coach Bob Schultz noted that the Duhawks’ success at the Loras Invitational was a result of the support they received from the home crowd.
“There was a great crowd,” Schultz said. “That was certainly a nice advantage.”
At the Iowa Conference Championships in Indianola, both the men’s and women’s teams continued their success. The men won the meet and the women finished third.
The men’s Conference win marked the completion of a goal they had been working toward all year long. The 12th-ranked men had three finishers place in the top-five, edging out sixth-ranked Central College by a score of 33-37. Loras was once again led by seniors Ty Wittman and Steve Loran as well as junior Sam Whan. Timothy Sevcik and Adam Varnas rounded out the scoring for the Duhawks. Each of these runners was named All-Conference selections for their performance.
“Pack running was the best it’s been all year,” said Schultz.
The conference title was the fifth overall for the Duhawks and their first since 2011.
The women were once again without their top runner, Maggie Saenz-Ruiz, who was still being held out with an injury. Once again, Junior Bri Cook stepped up for the Duhawks, finishing in third place with a time of 23:04.3, a personal record good enough to be recognized as an All-Conference selection. The third place finish marked Cook’s third top five finish of the season.
“The girls stepped up and still managed to win the home meet and finish third at conference,” said Coach Bob Schultz. “That says a lot about their character and confidence.”
Coach Schultz also gained Iowa Conference recognition as he was named Iowa Conference Coach of the Year for the second time in his career at Loras.
The Duhawks will use the next two weeks to prepare for the NCAA Division III Regionals which will be held in Pella, Iowa.