Men win their 4th straight IIAC cross-country championship

On Saturday, Oct. 28, the men’s and women’s cross-country teams competed at the Iowa Conference Championships in Waverly.

Gaining strength throughout their races, the men’s team won the title with an impressive score of 24 points (the lowest score wins), while the women placed fourth.

Wartburg was the only team that was anywhere within eyeshot of the Duhawks, scoring 41 points to finish as the runner-up.

Photo courtesy of Loras College Athletics

This is the Duhawks’ fourth consecutive Conference Championship, with only Luther and Wartburg having achieved this same honor. All top five men pushed through the cold and finished in the top 10. They also recorded either their best times this season or all-time personal bests.

“We have been blessed with health, plus we have tremendous experience and senior leadership,” said Head Coach Bob Schultz.

Senior Mason Tope once again led the Duhawks to victory and again was crowned the individual conference champ, finishing the 8K course with a blazing time of 25:03, just four seconds off the all-time record set in 2005 by Wartburg’s Keith Solverson.

“I felt pretty good going into the conference race. I think all of the guys felt the same way, and we were just excited to show what we could do and dive into the championship season,” said Tope. “It feels great to win but even better to be a 4-peat champion with the team. Everyone has put in a lot of work, and it was just great to see it all be worth it.”

Following right behind Tope as the individual runner-up was senior Timothy Sevcik, who finished the course with a time of 25:10. Senior Brien Nugent recorded a time of 25:15 to finish fourth. Senior Justin

Adams was seventh with a time of 25:31 and junior Jack Carroll was 10th with a time of 25:46. Rounding out the top seven were junior Preston Kauder, who finished 21st in the conference with a time of 26:12, and sophomore Patrick Wolak, who  placed 23rd when he crossed the finish line in 26:15.

“It couldn’t have gone much better,” said Schultz. “I’m very happy with the way our guys executed our race plan and competed.”

He has very high expectations for the men the rest of the season.

“Our goals with the final two meets of the season are to defend our NCAA Central Regional title and to trophy at the National Championships,” he said. “Lord willing, that will happen.”

The women also continued to make strides. Just like the men, all top five women recorded season personal and all-time personal bests.

“I’m really proud of our women for stepping up today and having their best race of the season when it counts the most,” Schultz said.

Senior Kelly Minear led the women and earned all-Conference honors, placing 14th with a time of 23:23 on the 6K course. The top 16 runners earn All-Conference honors.

“I was so excited,” said Minear about her All-Conference performance. “This has been a goal of mine since sophomore year, and I think I’ve gotten closer and closer each year. This was the first race this year where I’ve felt this strong, and I got a big lifetime (personal record), so the All-Conference (honor) was just the icing on the cake. The fact that most of the team was able to have a great race was so awesome too, so it was a fun day for everyone.”

The other scorers were first-year Kristan Brown (23:35), junior Kemunto Ondande (24:04), sophomore Brianna Bower (24:07) and sophomore Averi Leitzen (24:51). Rounding out the top seven was junior Liz Venezio (24:52) and first-year Courtney Knight (24:57).

Up next on Saturday, the cross-country teams travel to the NCAA Central Regional in Northfield, MN, where they will compete for a spot in the NCAA Championships.

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Brianna is a sports writer for The Lorian.

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