Cross-country teams run with the best

DUBUQUE — After impressive performances by both the men’s and women’s cross country teams in their first three competitions, the Duhawks continued their success at the Division III Pre-Nationals in Mason, OH.

Loras was the only member of the Iowa conference at the event, but they represented the conference nobly, with both teams placing in the top-ten among 26 other schools. The Duhawks are fighting to make a return to Mason for the Division III National Championships which will take place in late November.

At the Pre-Nationals event, the Duhawks men’s team continued to impress, finishing third in the event behind North Central College and SUNY Geneseo. The Duhawks also had four runners place in the top-30 including: senior Ty Wittman (10th), junior Sam Whan (21st), senior Steve Loran (23rd), and senior Rob Howe (27th).

Wittman’s race proved to be the fastest for the Duhawks. His time of 24:11 was good enough for a 4:52 pace. Wittman’s achievements didn’t go unnoticed, as he was recognized as a special mention by the Iowa Conference for his performance.  With several runners this season finishing amongst the top in each competition thus far, team chemistry appears to be a primary factor for the team’s success.

“I feel that the most important factor to our team success would be the team camaraderie itself,” said senior Ty Wittman. “(Coach) Bob always says, ‘there is nothing you can do as an individual that will be as great as what you can do as a team’, and I can tell everyone on this team believes that 100 percent. We are like brothers, and when we are racing, we run for our brothers.”

The Duhawks also continued to impress on the women’s side, registering 263 points, good enough to earn a ninth-place finish at Pre-Nationals. The women’s team was once again led by Maggie Saenz-Ruiz and Bri Cook who have established themselves as consistent top-two finishers for the Duhawks. 

Saenz-Ruiz finished third place overall in the women’s race with a time of 21:13, finishing only about 20 seconds behind the first place runner. Cook finished next for the women’s team with a time of 22:36, placing 51st among the pack.  Sophomore Lindsey Gidel emerged as a force for the women’s team by finishing 71st overall as well as third for the Duhawks. 

Saenz-Ruiz’s consistent top finishes have been recognized throughout the entire Iowa Conference, as she was named Iowa Cross Country Performer of the Week for the second straight week.  Saenz-Ruiz was also named the Iowa Conference Athlete of the Week. Maggie points out that part of her success can be attributed to what the cross-country program has to offer.

“Mutual support and encouragement are crucial during the progression of the season,” said Saenz-Ruiz, “because they allow us to become a united cross-country family, characterized by unique gifts and talents.” 

Wittman explains that the men’s team plans to build momentum as they head into their next competition and into the postseason.

“Each day we build, get better, and get faster,” said Wittman. “We absolutely build momentum as the season goes on.”

The Duhawks will have 20 days to continue building momentum for their next competition, as they host the Loras College Invitational on Oct. 17 at the Dubuque Soccer Complex.

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