Back-to-back Iowa Conference champions (2012, 2013)
GRINNELL—The Central College men’s cross country squad scored a convincing victory in a strong field at the Grinnell Les Duke Invitational Saturday morning while the women placed fifth.
Ewing leads men’s team—The Dutch men were powered by three top-10 finishes en route to the win, led by junior Brent Ewing (Cincinnati, Centerville HS) in third place. Ewing covered the 8,000-meter course in a time of 25 minutes, 40 seconds and led the field for much of the latter half of the race.
“Brent really had a breakthrough performance today,” said Dunham. “It was a personal best by over a minute and he showed the confidence he needs to run with the leaders.”
Close behind were teammates Cole Decker (freshman, Des Moines, West Des Moines Dowling HS) and Drew Jackson (sophomore, Johnston) in fifth and sixth respectively, both clocking a time of 25:50. Austin O’Brien (junior, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) was 11th overall (26:13) and Eli Horton (sophomore, Runnells, Southeast Polk HS) crossed the line in 14th (26:18). Tim Shepherd (sophomore, Knoxville) was 31st (26:54) and Cody Doughan (junior, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) finished in 36th (27:02) to round out Central’s varsity squad.
The Dutch attacked the race aggressively, with five runners in the top-10 at the one-mile mark.
“I thought the front guys may have gone out a little fast,” said Dunham. “But they did a good job defending their lead. That’s the kind of mentality you need to do well in big races.”
Central totaled only 36 points in the 13-team field. Wartburg was second with 74 points, with Bethel (Minn.) third (109 points) and host Grinnell fourth (125 points). Bethel sophomore Matt Berens took the individual title in a time of 25:33 in the 207-runner field.
“It was definitely a great start for the season,” said Dunham. “But we don’t want to get too high or too low about anything right now. We’re still a long ways away from the championship meets."
McDermott steady for Dutch women—Senior Mel McDermott (Britt, West Hancock HS) led Central again Saturday. McDermott traversed the 6,000-meter course in 23:49 and crossed the finish line in 16th place.
Alyssa Eaves (sophomore, Johnston) was the second Dutch runner in 22nd (24:31), while a breakthrough performance for Emma Nelson (junior, Pekin) put her close behind in 24th (24:34).
“Emma ran a really strong race,” said associate head coach Stephen Fyfe. “She decided to take a risk and go for it at the four-kilometer mark and it paid off.”
Shelby Mendoza (junior, Norwalk) was 31st (24:45) and Amanda Dunkin (junior, Pella) was 37th (24:51) to round out the scoring runners, while freshmen Molly Bramble (Waukee) and Elin Phipps (Boone) took the last two varsity spots in 54th (25:36) and 57th (25:41) respectively.
“The women did a great job following the plan of starting out relaxed and controlled,” said Dunham. “They built their momentum well throughout the race.”
Fyfe was also pleased with the race tactics.
“We wanted to emphasize pack running again,” said Fyfe. “It was fun to watch them advance through the field in the middle of the race.”
Central accumulated 128 points to take fifth in the 11-team field. No. 9 Wartburg won the meet with 49 points. Host Grinnell took runner-up honors with 82 points while Truman State (Mo.) was third (85 points) and Monmouth (Ill.) was fourth (97 points). Wartburg sophomore Alana Enabnit took first in the 147-runner field in a time of 21:29.
Both squads are off next weekend and the men will take a partial squad to the Grand View Invitational Sept. 21. The Univ. of Minn. Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 29 will be the next major competition for the Dutch.
“We’re going to take advantage of these next couple weeks to get healthy and refocus,” said Dunham. “The Griak is a big meet and we’re looking forward to going back there.”