Back-to-back Iowa Conference champions (2012, 2013)
PELLA—The Central College men’s cross country team won its second consecutive Iowa Conference championship Saturday, but slipped one spot to No. 10 in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division III poll.
Senior Austin O’Brien (senior, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) led the Dutch to a 1-2-3 individual finish on the 8,000-meter A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex course en route to 31 team points and the title. O’Brien came from behind to overtake last year’s league champ Eli Horton (junior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) with a personal-best time of 24:46.8. Horton also ran a personal best with 24:50.3 Sophomore Cole Decker (Des Moines, Dowling Catholic HS) was third in 25:12.5.
Central is in the top 10 in consecutive weeks for the first time this season. The Dutch were ranked No. 7 in the Aug. 28 preseason poll, but dropped as low as No. 32 in the third week only to re-enter the top 10 at No. 9 Oct. 23. Johns Hopkins surpassed Central with a 24-spot improvement to No. 8, while Wis.-Eau Claire leapfrogged from No. 11 to No. 9.
Iowa Conference runner-up Loras moved up six spots to No. 22, while Luther dropped four spots to No. 28. Wartburg is receiving votes.
The Dutch remained No. 2 in the Central Region, as St. Olaf (Minn.) retained the top spot. Iowa Conference schools comprise four of the top six in the region as Loras and Luther sit behind Central at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, with Wartburg at No. 6.
The Dutch compete at the NCAA Division III Central Region championships Nov. 16 at 12:15 p.m. at Northfield, Minn. Central was runner-up—five points behind host institution St. Olaf—at the region championship last fall, earning a berth in the NCAA Division III national meet at Terre Haute, Ind. where the Dutch tied for 12th.