1981 NCAA Div. III champions
WINNECONNE, WIS.—John Gonzalez (sophomore, San Antonio, Texas, Brackenridge HS) and Claudia Garcia (senior, Iowa City, City HS) led the Central College men’s and women’s cross country teams to 20th-place finishes at the highly-competitive Wis.-Oshkosh Brooks Invitational Saturday featuring over 1,000 athletes and 21-nationally ranked programs between both races.
“Overall this was a great experience for our program,” said coach Joe Dunham. “We have a lot of underclassmen so this is the first time they’ve been in a race this size. It was an eye opener.”
Gonzalez crossed the line of the 8,000-meter course in 26 minutes and two seconds to place 110th overall in the 575-runner field. Austin O’Brien (freshman, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) and Ben Schornack (sophomore, Urbandale) were close behind in 120th (26:08) and 129th (26:14) respectively. Andrew Hamer (junior, Murray) was 167th (26:32) while Brandon Clough (sophomore, Marshalltown, GMG HS) was 262nd (27:17). Jon Klein (freshman, Pella) finished 277th (27:22) and Nathan Good (freshman, St. Peters, Mo., Fort Zumwalt East HS) was 326th (27:50) to round out the varsity squad.
“I haven’t had a chance to see how many personal bests the men had yet but I feel like we had a great effort,” said Dunham.
Central finished with 578 points while Division III’s top-ranked North Central (Ill.) scored only 49 points for the team title in the 37-team field. Iowa Conference rival Coe placed 10th with 389 points while Dubuque was 36th with 1181 points. North Central’s Michael Spain was the first overall finisher in a time of 24:23.
Dunham was also pleased with the race execution on the women’s side.
“I thought our women ran smart,” said Dunham. “They ran out of their comfort zone early and did their best to put themselves in a position to be successful. This was a tough race to run as a pack with so many people, but they did a good job of staying together.”
Meanwhile, Garcia was the first Dutch runner across the line in a time of 23:40 over the women’s 6,000-meter course to place 101st with Mel McDermott (sophomore, Britt, West Hancock HS) a few steps behind in 109th (23:44). Sara Crippen (senior, Williamsburg) was 135th (23:55), Daphne Baumgartner (freshman, Perry) was 158th (24:10), and Amanda Melcher (sophomore, Libertyville, Fairfield HS) was 184th (24:33). Jenna Broghamer (senior, Iowa City, West HS) and Meghann Burt (senior, Slater, Ankeny Christian HS) rounded out Central’s varsity squad in 196th (24:27) and 222nd (24:42) respectively.
“This race gives us more confidence going into the conference meet in two weeks,” said Dunham. “I’m proud of the way they represented Central today.”
The Dutch women ended with 563 points while Minn.-Duluth accumulated 89 points to take the team championship in the 36-team field. League rivals Coe and Dubuque placed 27th (821 points) and 29th (874 points) respectively. Minn.-Duluth’s Morgan Place took the top individual spot in a time of 21:01.
Both varsity squads saw all seven of their runners achieve new personal bests Saturday.
“The conditions were ideal today for fast times,” said Dunham. “The weather was great and this is the flattest course we will be on all season.”
Dunham felt this meet was important for his squads’ overall development.
“Learning how to run at this level is where we want to be and we took a good step in that direction today,” said Dunham. “Plus it was fun to be able to run against teams like NYU and Emory that we don’t normally see.”
The Dutch will take next weekend off in preparation for the Iowa Conference championship meet Oct. 30 in Dubuque. The women were third last year while the men’s squad was sixth.