1981 NCAA Div. III champions
WAVERLY—The underclass-dominated Central College men’s and women’s cross country squads closed their seasons at the NCAA Central Region meet Saturday. The men finished 14th in a 26-team field while the women were 17th in a 27-team field.
After an unusually warm fall, runners dealt with temperatures in the 40s paired with windy conditions and a wet course after significant rainfall Friday.
“It wasn’t too bad,” said coach Joe Dunham. “But the weather did have an effect on the race.”
The Dutch men accumulated 396 points to improve on their 17th-place 2009 showing. Grinnell took the team title with 97 points while Iowa Conference champion Luther nabbed the other automatic qualifying-bid with a runner-up 133-point effort.
“Obviously we were disappointed that we weren’t able to put a complete race together,” said Dunham. “We had some good performances but we needed everyone to run well.”
John Gonzalez (sophomore, San Antonio, Texas, Brackenridge HS) led the Dutch men for the third time this season, finishing in 54th with a time of 26 minutes, 37.3 seconds over the 8,000-meter course. Ben Schornack (sophomore, Urbandale) was the second Central finisher in 59th (26:43.6). Austin O’Brien (freshman, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) was 90th (27:16.2), followed by Andrew Hamer (junior, Murray) in 94th (27:18.9) and Brandon Clough (sophomore, Marshalltown, GMG HS) in 99th (27:23.3), rounding out Central’s scorers. Freshmen Jon Klein (Pella) and Nathan Good (Saint Peters, Mo., Fort Zumwalt East HS) were 109th (27:38) and 133rd (28:22.1) respectively. Ben Sathre of St. Thomas (Minn.) took the individual title in 24:56.
“I was particularly pleased with the individual efforts of Brandon (Clough), Jon (Klein), and Andrew (Hamer),” said Dunham. “They ran a tough race.”
Gonzalez made a bid for all-region honors, running in the top-25 before fading late in the race. The top-35 finishers received all-region honors.
“John ran within himself today,” said Dunham. “He set himself up for a nice race by staying conservative in the first mile but couldn’t hold on in the end.”
Crippen leads Dutch women—For the first time in her career, senior Sara Crippen (Williamsburg) led the Central women’s squad, finishing in 51st place with a career-best time of 23:47.8 over the 6,000-meter course.
“Sara ran great today,” said Dunham “To run a personal best in these conditions is impressive. It was a nice way for her to finish her cross country career.”
Mel McDermott (sophomore, Britt, West Hancock) was the second Dutch runner across the line in 69th (24:06), followed by Amanda Melcher (sophomore, Libertyville, Fairfield HS) in 89th (24:28), Claudia Garcia (senior, Iowa City, City HS) in 96th (24:36.1), and Jenna Broghamer (sophomore, Iowa City, West HS) in 103rd (24:42.3). Freshmen Amanda Dunkin (Pella) and Daphne Baumgartner (Perry) were 111th (24:56.4) and 120th (25:08.8) respectively. Wartburg’s Lori Tlach was the individual champion in 22:05.
The Dutch women accumulated 408 points on the day. Conference champion Luther took the team title with 68 points while league runner-up Wartburg captured the other automatic qualifying-bid with a runner-up 111-point effort.
“Overall I am happy with their preparation this week and their effort today,” said Dunham. “But it was tough to look at the place and not be disappointed. We are a better team than we showed.”
Between both programs, 11 of Central’s 14 varsity runners were freshman or sophomore, fueling optimism for the future.
“Even though we were disappointed today, we saw a lot of progress this season and are encouraged by what we see in these teams,” said Dunham. “They are passionate about running and hungry for success. I have no doubt we will get to where we want to be.”