The men and women of Northwestern’s cross country team brought strong performances while competing at the GPAC Conference Championships at Dordt this previous Saturday, Nov. 9. Numerous personal bests (denoted with asterisks) were set as the Raiders competed against fierce competition.
The woman’s 5K race was led by freshman Micah Van Kalsbeek, finishing in ninth with a time of 19:15*. She was followed closely by sophomore Autumn Muilenburg, who finished 10th with a time of 19:16. Next was junior Hunter Koepke, who finished 11th at 19:17. Seniors Kelsey Lang and Breanna Harthoorn rounded off the top five for the Raiders with times of 19:23* and 19:27 respectively, placing 14th and 15th. Junior Samantha Dowling also recorded a personal best at the meet.
Three women, Van Kalsbeek, Muilenburg and Koepke, all qualified for the NAIA National Championship.
“I just trusted the training and ran for my team,” Van Kalsbeek said after her ninth place finish.
The women’s team placed third overall with a score of 59 points. They were beat out by Dordt and Concordia, scoring 48 and 39 points respectively.
Junior Joshua Starr led the men’s team in the 8K race, finishing 13th overall with a time of 25:57*. He was followed by sophomores Peyton Brasser and Leviticus Cross, placing 21st and 22nd with times of 26:33* and 26:37* respectively. Freshman Jakob VanDerWerff came in fourth for the Raiders, finishing 29th overall with a 27:03*, and Sophomore Isaiah Lee completed the top five with a 46th place finish in 27:47.
Starr will join Van Kalsbeek, Muilenberg and Koepke at the NAIA National Championship in Washington.
“I think we knew that in order to have a chance of winning, we had to take some risks and push the pace. Going out fast paid off for some of us and didn’t pay off for others,” Starr said after his race. “Ultimately, though, I think we can be proud of our team effort and realize we pushed ourselves to new limits.”
The men placed fourth out of 11 teams, scoring 121 points. Morningside came in third with 102 points, Doane came in second with 44 points and Dordt won the meet with a score of 28 points.
The four individual national qualifiers will compete in Vancouver, Washington on Friday, Nov. 22.