Juniors Hannah Moore and Krista Wood both qualified for Nationals, finishing with times of 18:55.4 and 19:12.9, respectively a the at the Crossroads League Championship meet Nov. 8 at Taylor University. Moore and Wood both received their second All-Conference honors for their success with 6th and 13th place finishes out of 130 runners.
Wood missed Nationals by one place last year.
“I knew it was a possibility to go this year, and that I would have to get in front of Taylor and IWU to do it,” Wood said. ” It’s a huge mental thing. Both teams have about 30 runners. I just ran my best and knew that Coach [King] would be happy no matter the outcome.”
Moore is equally excited to make her appearance on the National stage.
“I’m pumped,” Moore said. ” We’ve been practicing with Erin [Rockey], and Coach is hoping for a good finish for the two of us.”
This year Nationals will be held Nov. 22 in Lawrence, Kan.
Head coach Tom King believes in the girls’ capability to compete at a national level.
“Krista and Hannah will do very well at Nationals,” King said. “There are usually about 300 [runners] and I am confident that they will be in the top 30s. That may seem high but the placement is really only a matter of about 20 or 30 seconds.”
To close out the season, the women’s cross country team brought home a 3rd place finish, while the men finished 8th at the meet. The women’s team was named No. 33 in the final NAIA Women’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, just short of the 26th placement that would have taken them to Nationals as a team.
The women’s team will be losing three seniors – Gretchen Pyper, Natalie Spahr, and Erin Rockey.
“We will definitely miss them, and I don’t think they can be replaced,” sophomore Christine Sparks said. “But I am looking forward to finding out what the freshmen will bring and the new dynamics next season.”
On the men’s side of the Crossroads League Championship meet, the top finisher was Eric Baker with a time of 27:22.0 earning him a 28th place finish out of 126 runners. Behind Baker, Brian Menzie finished 38th, Zach McIntyre finished 44th and Austin Presnell finished 52nd.
Reflecting upon the season, Presnell believed injuries were a deciding factor for the small team.
“We did our best and did everything that we could,” he said. “There are just some things you can’t control, like injuries. With our small team, injuries can make a big impact.”
The team graduates seniors Brian Menzie and Josh Graham.
King said the season has been very enjoyable for him.
“They are just nice young people,” King said. “They get along well and pick each other up. They always look forward to coming to practice and are also a great group of academics.”