YANKTON, S.D. – It’s crunch time for both Concordia University cross country squads. Just two weeks out from the conference championships, the Bulldogs turned in place finishes of third on the women’s side and fifth on the men’s side at Saturday’s (Oct. 21) Mount Marty Invite held at Fox Run Golf Course in Yankton, S.D. A total of nine women’s teams and 10 men’s teams competed at the meet.
Second-year head coach Matt Beisel’s women’s team finished above two of the other three GPAC teams that were present. Meanwhile, the men beat out three of the other four GPAC squads that journeyed to the hilly course in Yankton. Said Beisel, “I told the kids it’s not about the times. It’s about competitive effort. They did a great job with it. I had a few freshmen on the girls side step up and run real well.”
Not surprisingly, senior Emily Deschaine led the efforts of the women’s team with her time of 19:33.30 on the 5k course. She placed fifth overall. The native of Frankenmuth, Mich., has recorded a top 15 finish at each of the team’s four meets this fall. The rest of the team’s top five included freshman Alyssa Fye (19:59.95; 9th), sophomore Rebekah Hinrichs (20:02.00; 10th), freshman Alyssa Bierwagen (20:58.64; 25th) and sophomore Sydney Clark (21:09.23; 27th). Both Deschaine and Fye appear to be strong contenders for individual bids to the national championships.
On the men’s side, junior Thomas Taylor clocked in at 27:34.52 on the 8k course, good for a 22nd place overall finish. It was freshman Christian Van Cleave who really made a big leap. He ran a personal best of 28:12.42 and finished 31st and second only to Taylor among Bulldogs. The team’s Nos. 3 through 5 spots were held down by seniors Pat Wortmann (28:18.34; 36th) and Kohlton Gabehart (28:19.82) and junior Evan Asche (28:46.65; 53rd). Just behind Asche, freshman Cody Williams turned in a personal best of 28:48.41.
A total of 104 male runners and 94 female runners navigated the course at Fox Run. Beisel brought 32 runners (18 female, 14 male) to the meet. Both squads will have to be trimmed to 10 runners for the conference meet.
Now it’s all about prepping for the upcoming GPAC championships, which will take place in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Saturday, Nov. 4. Both Bulldog squads have hopes of improving upon their sixth-place conference finishes in 2016. National championship bids will be on the line at the conference meet. Last season Deschaines qualified individually for nationals thanks to a ninth-place claim at the GPAC championships.
“Our women our sitting fifth in the conference right now. That’s where we’re at,” Beisel said. “On the guys’ side it’s a little tricky. The question is whether our guys can put it together and be better than fifth. Can we upset a Dordt or Morningside at the conference meet in two weeks? It would feel good if we can dig in and do that. Right now we’re sitting in fifth and that’s better than last year. As a coach, you hope the training is all going to pay off and they’re going to have a great race at the GPAC meet.”