Leaves changing color in the warm autumn morning, the sun flashing off bright uniforms of runners from all across the conference, a trail snaking its way through trees and tall grasses: this is the kind of meet that makes people get excited about getting up early in the morning to race three or even five miles. And this is exactly what the Red Raider cross country team did at last week’s Briar Cliff Invitational: get excited.
With Briar Cliff’s flat and fast course ahead of them and several GPAC conference teams to compete with, there was nothing holding NW runners back.
All but one of the men and two of the women raced their best times for the season, five of them setting personal records over previous years as well.
Freshman Michael Vermeer led the NW men in their 8000 meter race, placing 34th with a time of 28:31. Also scoring for the men were senior Jeff Petersen at 44th, freshman Joel Watters at 57th, sophomore Kevin Ulmer at 70th and senior Joel VanderWal at 72nd.
Doane’s Sam Malmberg won the 91-runner race with a time of 25:50, helping Doane claim the meet title with 67 points. NW took 9th place with 230.
Coach Dale Thompson sees the men’s team taking form. “Michael Vermeer is learning how to race five miles and had a good race for the men,” he said.
“The pack for the men is starting to develop and Kevin, Joel VanderWal and David did a good job on the course today.”
On the women’s side, senior Magdalene Biesanz led the NW runners, placing 10th with a time of 19:30. Senior Nancy Koskamp at 28th, junior Megan Quayle at 31st, junior Crystal Drury at 34th and freshman Carmen Moss at 35th rounded out the women’s score of 129, which earned them fifth place overall.
Concordia’s Angela Matthews won the 76-runner 5000 meter race at 18:49, and University of Sioux Falls took the team title with a score of 47.
The women had a strong showing, according to Coach Thompson. “Magdalene and Nancy had good races to lead the women to a 5th place finish,” he said. “The scoring pack for the women continues to be solid.”
The team’s next race is tomorrow when they will take on the notoriously hilly course at Dana College in Blair, Neb.