Back-to-back Iowa Conference champions (2012, 2013)
COLFAX, WIS.—Facing ranked teams from numerous regions and divisions, the Central College cross country teams shined at the highly competitive Wis.-Eau Claire Blugold Invitational on Friday.
The Dutch men’s team finished third in the 26-team, 453-individual field. The women’s team finished 11th in the 25-team, 424-individual field.
O’Brien, Horton finish third, fourth—Senior Austin O’Brien (Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) and junior Eli Horton (Runnells, Southeast Polk HS) finished third and fourth, respectively, leading the Dutch to third-place. O’Brien finished the eight-kilometer course in 25:01, with Horton close behind at 25:06. All five Dutch scorers placed in the top 42. Sophomore Cole Decker (Des Moines, Dowling Catholic HS) finished in 25:34, good for 22nd, while freshman Isaac Steffensmeier (St. Paul, Iowa, Fort Madison HS) finished 10 seconds later in 27th. Junior Drew Jackson (Johnston) closed out the scoring in 42nd with 26:10.
“We took a step in the right direction today,” coach Joe Dunham said. “It was the first chance for our men to run in a large, crowded meet. I was really proud of the effort and we will continue to strive to get better each and every week. It is great to see where we are at, but we still haven’t reached our full potential. As long as we stay healthy and continue to improve, we can run with anyone.
Central was still without senior captain Michael Splavec (West Des Moines, Valley HS), junior L.J. Lipscomb (Johnston) and freshman Kyle Schelling (Orange City, Sioux Center HS).
“It was nice to have most of our runners, but we were still missing some,” said Dunham. “We hope to run at full strength in two weeks.”
Wis.-La Crosse topped the team standings with 54 points, while St. Olaf (Minn.), the top-ranked team in the Central Region, was second with 80 points. Central scored 98 en route to the third-place finish. Grant Wintheiser of St. Olaf was the individual winner in 24:49.
Eaves leads Dutch once again—Junior Alyssa Eaves (Johnston) led the Dutch on the six-kilometer course with a 40th-place finish in 23:44. Eaves has been the top Central finisher in the first three invitationals of the season. Freshman Kasey Wiedmaier (Indianola) surprised as the second Dutch finisher in 24:09, good for 68th. Senior Daphne Baumgartner (Perry) and sophomore Molly Bramble (Waukee) continued their consistent seasons as the third and fourth Central finishers. Baumgartner was 72nd in 24:12, while Bramble was 78th in 24:21. The two have been third and fourth on the team at all three invitationals thus far. Sophomore Gabi Wilson (Des Moines, Des Moines Christian HS) rounded out the lineup at 24:22 in 81st.
“We ran extremely well today,” coach Joe Dunham said. “Our competitiveness and mental toughness was great. It was a challenging race. Our top-five spread was 38 seconds, which is tough in a race of this size.
“We are going to see some special things begin to happen with this team,” said Dunham. “I’m continually impressed by their hard work and desire to succeed.”
The University of Minnesota took the team title with 44 points. Tricia Serres of Luther was the individual champion in 21:48.
The Central cross country teams continue the bi-weekly race trend, returning to action on Oct. 19 at the Jim Drews/Tori Neubauer Invitational in West Salem, Wis. Last season at the invitational the men’s team finished 3rd of 26 teams, while the women’s team finished 12th of 26.