1981 NCAA Div. III champions
WINNECONNE, WIS.—Dealing with high winds and loaded fields, the Central College men’s cross country squad took 23rd place at the Wis.-Oshkosh Brooks Invitational Saturday morning while the women placed 29th.
Eager for a preview of the NCAA national championship course, 47 men’s squads toed the line, including nine top-20 teams. The 43-team women’s field featured seven top-20 squads. The Lake Breeze Golf Club will be the site of the NCAA national meet Nov. 19.
O’Brien leads men—Austin O’Brien (sophomore, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) led the Dutch for the first time this season, covering the 8,000-meter course in 26 minutes, 27 seconds and placing 92nd. Eli Horton (freshman, Runnells, Southeast Polk HS) was the second Central runner across the line in 116th (26:39). Drew Jackson (freshman, Johnston) was 151st (26:57), while Brent Ewing (junior, Cincinnati, Centerville HS) was 171st (27:06). Andrew Hamer (senior, Murray) was 231st (27:29), Brandon Clough (junior, Marshalltown, GMG HS) was 240th (27:35), and Chris Sirridge (freshman, Crystal Lake, Ill., Central HS) rounded out the varsity squad in 262nd (27:52).
“I thought Chris Sirridge ran well coming off an injury,” said head coach Joe Dunham. “And Nathan Thiessen had a great run in the open race.”
A crowded course and wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour affected normal race strategies.
“It was good for our guys to run in a tough environment,” said Dunham. “We didn’t respond to it as well as I had hoped, so we’ve got two weeks to work on some things before conference.”
The Dutch men accumulated 696 points in their 23rd-place finish while No. 1 North Central (Ill.) took the team title with 49 points. Tim Nelson of Wis.-Stout was the individual winner in 24:46.
“Today was a learning experience for our team,” said Dunham. “We had a few good individual performances, but we struggled to get into a rhythm as a team.”
Four personal bests for women—Meanwhile, Mel McDermott (junior, Britt, West Hancock HS) led the Dutch women, crossing the line of the 6,000-meter course in 23:26 and placing 81st. Melanie Louis (senior, Davenport, Central HS) was the second Central runner in 160th (24:11), with Amanda Melcher (junior, Libertyville, Fairfield HS) and Emma Nelson (sophomore, Pekin) taking 215th (24:49) and 220th (24:51) respectively. Alyssa Eaves (freshman, Johnston) was 256th (25:20), Mallory Welk (freshman, De Pere, Wis.) was 260th (25:24), and Jenna Broghamer (junior, Iowa City, West HS) finished in 281st (25:46) to round out the varsity scorers.
“It was a wild start right at the beginning,” said associate head coach Stephen Fyfe. “There was a pile-up and quite a few runners went down, including some of ours. I was happy they didn’t lose their composure after that.”
Several Dutch runners, including McDermott, Louis, Nelson, and Welk collected personal bests on the day. McDermott cracked the top-10 of Central’s all-time 6,000-meter list and is currently ranked 9th, while Louis moved up to 17th.
“Running a personal best in the conditions today is pretty amazing,” said Fyfe. “Mallory Welk ran particularly well with a 34-second improvement after stepping into the varsity race.”
But Fyfe knows this team’s potential hasn’t been met.
“We’re trying to get healthy,” said Fyfe. “We still have not run our entire top seven together this year so hopefully we’ll be a full strength for conference in two weeks.
The Central women collected 811 points in their 29th-place finish while No. 3 Washington Univ. (Mo.) took the team title with 61 points. Erica Jackey of Washington Univ. was the individual winner in 24:46.
The Dutch will take next weekend off before heading to the Iowa Conference championship meet Oct. 31 in Decorah.