Back-to-back Iowa Conference champions (2012, 2013)
PELLA — Central College’s first Iowa Conference men’s cross country championship last season could lead to even better things ahead, according to the voters in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason coaches Division III poll.
The Dutch open at No. 7 in the country, the program’s highest ranking ever. Central returns all seven runners who raced in last year’s NCAA Division III meet. The squad closed the regular season at No. 22 in the rankings but opened some eyes by tying for 12th at the national meet in Terre Haute, Ind.
Perennial power North Central (Ill.) is the pick to repeat as Division III champs, getting 278 points from voters. Central has 230 points. No other Iowa Conference schools are ranked although Luther, Loras and Wartburg are is among those also receiving votes.
Meanwhile the Dutch are No. 1 in the Central Region rankings. St. Olaf (Minn.), which edged Central in the regional meet it played host to in November but finished behind the Dutch at the national meet, is close behind at No. 2, trailing 108 points to 101. Loras is No. 4 with Wartburg at No. 5, Luther at No. 7 and Grinnell at No. 8.
But as coach Joe Dunham is quick to remind his still-young squad, the Dutch haven’t proven anything yet in 2013. They’ll get their chance soon enough as they play host to the Central Dutch Invitational Saturday, Sept. 7 on the college’s course at the A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex.