Women's cross country

  • 1981 NCAA Div. III champions
  • Nine All-Americans
  • Three national top-10 team finishes

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Central women runners surprise at league meet

Women's cross country | Oct. 30, 2010

DUBUQUE—The lineup is almost entirely new but the Central College women’s cross country displayed some of the finishing burst of last year’s NCAA Division III meet qualifiers in taking a surprise third-place finish at the Iowa Conference meet Saturday.

Meanwhile the Dutch men couldn’t match some of their earlier showings and settled for a seventh-place showing.

Central’s women finished with 108 points,  just eight points in front of Loras and 11 better than Cornell. Luther won the title with 28 points, while Wartburg had 39.

Central’s top five women’s runners from last season were lost to graduation but the Dutch nonetheless recorded a second straight third-place finish.

“I was extremely happy with their performance,” coach Joe Dunham said. “They really showed up ready to race. I could even see a little flash from last year. The runners who were on last year’s team, Mel McDermott (sophomore, Britt, West Hancock HS), Melanie Louis (junior, Davenport, Central HS) and Meghann Burt (senior, Slater, Ankeny Christian HS), have been great leaders.”

McDermott was 16th in 24:08.0 on the 6,000-meter course, which was set up on the Univ. of Dubuque soccer complex. Claudia Garcia (senior, Iowa City) was 18th (24:16.8), with Sara Crippen (senior, Williamsburg) 21st (24:28.2), Amanda Melcher (sophomore, Libertyville, Fairfield HS) 24th (24:40.9), Jenna Broghamer (sophomore, Iowa City, West HS) 29th (24:58.3), Daphne Baumgartner (freshman, Perry) 38th (25:31.1) and Amanda Dunkin (freshman, Pella) 39th (25:31.8).

“They all really ran well, across the board, even those in the back,” Dunham said. “It was really fun to watch.

“With everything they lost from last year, it’s really remarkable. They showed a lot of character and a lot of grit.”

The Dutch men, sixth a year ago, finished seventh with 135 points, just eight points behind Simpson. Luther repeated as champion with 57 points, edging Loras by four points. Cornell followed with 77 while Coe had 115 and Wartburg had 122.

Freshman Austin O’Brien (Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) was 17th for the Dutch in 26:56.0 on the 8,000-meter course. Ben Schornack (sophomore, Urbandale) was 20th (27:08.2), with John Gonzalez (sophomore, San Antonio, Texas, Brackenridge HS) 30th (27:32.5), Brandon Clough (sophomore, Green Mountain, GMG HS) 33rd (27:49.0), Jon Klein (freshman, Pella) 35th (27:55.9), Andrew Hamer (junior, Murray) 39th (28:16.1) and Austin Vondracek (senior, Swisher, Cedar Rapids Prairie HS) 47th (28:47.1).

“There’s no way to sugarcoat it, we just had a bad day,” Dunham said. “It wasn’t because of a lack of effort. The guys did everything they could and they really wanted it. But it just wasn’t our day.”

Both squads head to Waverly for the NCAA Division III Central Regional meet Nov. 13, which will determine the qualifiers for the national meet Nov. 20, also in Waverly.

The Dutch women were unexpected NCAA qualifiers last year, reaching the national meet for the first time since 1981. It would, admittedly, be an even bigger upset to qualify this year.

“It will be tough again to get out of the regional and qualify for the national meet, but I’m not going to sell us short,” Dunham said. “We’ll do the best we can and hope we can surprise some people.”

For the Central men, it’s a chance for redemption before closing the 2010 season.

“I told them after the race that we’ve got one choice,” Dunham said. “We have to move forward and put it behind us. We’ve got another chance to prove who we are and the guys left with their heads up high.

“The hardest part is we have to wait two weeks to race again. But that will make us even hungrier.”


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