1981 NCAA Div. III champions
PELLA—The Central College men’s and women’s cross country teams had a perfect day for cross country at the Central Dutch Invitational Saturday morning. They took full advantage of the conditions in their first and only home meet this season with the men’s squad taking second while the women placed third.
The Central men placed three inside the top 10 and all seven varsity runners in the top 30. Junior captain Andrew Hamer (Murray) led the Dutch with a finishing time of 20 minutes, two seconds, good for fourth place in a field of 137 on the 6,000-meter course, with John Gonzalez (sophomore, San Antonio, Texas, Brackenridge HS) close behind in sixth (20:06). Austin O’Brien (freshman, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) rounded out Central’s top three, crossing the finish line in eighth with a time of 20:14. Senior Austin Vondracek (Swisher, Cedar Rapids Prairie HS) led the next Dutch charge, finishing in 22nd (20:33) with Brandon Clough (sophomore, Marshalltown, GMG HS) in 23rd (20:37). Freshman Jon Klein (Pella) and Cody Doughan (Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) finished in in 25th (20:40) and 28th (20:47) respectively to round out the varsity squad.
“Andrew (Hamer) and John (Gonzalez) really led the men today,” said coach Joe Dunham. “They are going to be some of the top runners in the region this year.”
Iowa Central scored 28 points to win the men’s team title while the Dutch took runner-up honors with 63 points. Iowa Conference rival Simpson was third (68 points), followed by Grinnell (80 points), St. Ambrose (145 points), Southwestern (170 points), William Penn (206 points), and Indian Hills (207 points). Tomas Cotter of Iowa Central was the men’s individual champion in 19:45.
McDermott leads women--Sophomore Mel McDermott (Britt, West Hancock HS) led the Dutch women in a time of 20:03 to place fifth in the 108-runner field. Claudia Garcia (senior, Iowa City, City HS) was the second Central runner across the line in 12th (20:22) followed closely by rookie Daphne Baumgartner (Perry) in 13th (20:26). Shelby Mendoza (freshman, Norwalk) was 17th (20:36), followed by a trio of Dutch runners including Amanda Dunkin (freshman, Pella) in 21st (20:59), Kristen Fariss (freshman, Batavia, Pekin HS) in 22nd (21:00), and Jenna Broghamer (sophomore, Iowa City, West HS) in 23rd (21:02).
“Mel picked up right where she left off at last year’s national championship meet,” said Dunham. “She’s only a sophomore but has already stepped into a leadership role on this team."
Grinnell scored 52 points to score a narrow victory over Iowa Central (57 points), with Central finishing in third with 68 points. Simpson was fourth (95 points), followed by St. Ambrose (96 points), William Penn (176 points), DMACC (216 points), and Southwestern (227 points). Catie Ellingson of Simpson won the women’s individual title in a time of 18:44.
In addition to the strong early-season showing, Dunham is encouraged by his younger runners. Between both teams, the Dutch finished with seven freshmen and four sophomores among their varsity finishers.
“Both teams showed an amazing amount of maturity despite their lack of experience at the collegiate level,” said Dunham. “They sure didn’t look like a young group.”
Also telling of this fall’s squads is their pack running mentality. The Central women had only 56 seconds between their top five scoring runners and 59 seconds between all seven varsity runners. The men, meanwhile, had only 35 seconds between their top five and 45 seconds between their varsity squad.
“They ran exactly how we wanted them to,” said Dunham. “They were patient early and attacked the second half of the race. You’ll see that a lot this year.”
“It was just a great day for a cross country race,” said Dunham. “Usually it’s hot and humid for this meet but we had temperatures in the 70s with a slight breeze today.”
Dunham also cited Central’s facilities planning and management staff.
“Our facilities team did an outstanding job getting the course ready for a big meet,” he said. “We had almost over 980 runners here between the high school and college races and the course held up well.”
Both teams have next weekend off and are headed to Northfield, Minn. Sept. 18 for the St. Olaf (Minn.) Invitational.