1981 NCAA Div. III champions
There’s just one senior on the roster yet no shortage of experience as the Central College women’s cross country team appears to be back on the rise.
An NCAA Division III national meet berth in 2009 was a program milestone, but just two runners from that squad returned in 2010. Those two runners, junior Mel McDermott and senior Melanie Louis, are being counted on to guide a youthful but talented club in 2011. They helped the Dutch secure a surprising third-place finish at the Iowa Conference meet last year, despite a lack of veterans and are co-captains this fall.
“They’re two great leaders,” said coach Joe Dunham. “We’re really looking to both of them this year. They’ve both had some great successes since they’ve been here.”
McDermott, an academic all-Iowa Conference honoree, was the winner of the Lamb-Kohawk Invitational hosted by Coe College. She was 19th in the league meet and 69th in the NCAA Division III Central Regional. Her time of 23:44 at Wis.-Oshkosh was Central’s fastest last fall. She earned team MVP honors but has her sights set much higher in 2011.
“I think we’d really be selling Mel short if we didn’t say we want her to qualify for the national meet,” Dunham said. “She just missed qualifying for the national meet in track in the 5,000-meters last spring. She’s got big goals and she should.”
Louis, who received academic all-league distinction in 2009, is a three-year letterwinner and former team most valuable freshman. She was seventh in the Coe meet and 64th in the conference race.
“I’m excited to have her back running consistently,” Dunham said. “She was a part of that team that went to the national meet two years ago and that experience really helps our program.”
Junior Amanda Melcher was third on the team at both the conference and regional meets, and was fifth at Coe.
“Amanda had a good track season and I expect her to have a good cross country season as well,” Dunham said.
Junior Jenna Broghammer was Central’s No. 5 runner at the conference and regional races. She’s an academic all-conference honoree and two-time letterwinner.
“She’s got talent, desire and a strong work ethic,” Dunham said. “The big thing with her is staying healthy. If she does, she could surprise a lot of people.”
Sophomore Daphne Baumgartner was the team’s newcomer of the year award winner. She was in the team’s top seven throughout her rookie season.
“Daphne had several good races last year and showed the potential to be a big contributor,” Dunham said. “We look forward to what she can do with a year of collegiate racing experience.”
Dunham also likes the potential of sophomore Shelby Mendoza, who spent her freshman season running with the junior varsity.
“Shelby has a great chance to be in the top seven,” Dunham said. “She has to stay healthy and mentally strong. If she can stay within herself and stay confident, she will do well.”
Sophomore Amanda Dunkin is aiming for a varsity spot as well.
“Amanda’s coming off a pretty good summer,” Dunham said. “She needs to get her mind ready to race.”
A promising crop of newcomers is headed by freshman Alyssa Eaves of Johnston, Emily Saville of Cedar Rapids, Allison McBroom of Runnells, Callie Aunan of Waukee, Alison Ranniger of Manning, Emily Linschneid of Johnston, and Mallory Welk of De Pere, Wis.
“We brought in some great kids,” Dunham said. “And we know we need to continue to recruit hard as we grow the program if we’re going to reach our goal of being national qualifiers year in and year out. This freshman class hasn’t done a lot of hard training yet, so I think they have the potential to eventually be very good.”
Dunham is convinced the program is in better shape than it was at the start of 2010.
“It’s a young team again, but we’ve got good leadership and the culture of the team is very healthy,” he said. “If we have everyone dialed in 100 percent, working hard and wanting to get better every day, we’ll see what that yields.”