CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Strong winds and a muddy course certainly did not lend for any types of world records at the Seminole Valley Stampede hosted by Mount Mercy University on Saturday (Oct. 20). While up against teams from all over the Midwest, the Concordia University cross country programs held their own. The Bulldogs turned in finishes of seventh out of 27 teams on the women’s side and 12th out of 23 squads on the men’s side.
This particular meet provided head coach Matt Beisel’s squads a chance to showcase themselves against some of the nation’s best. The meet featured a combined 13 men’s and women’s squads that were either ranked or receiving votes in the most recent NAIA coaches’ poll.
Led once again by senior Taylor Grove, the women hope they have maintained their status as national vote getters. Grove and company managed to outkick Friends University (Kan.), a team that had appeared above them in the receiving votes category of the national poll.
“They ran a fantastic team race,” Beisel said. “The conditions were really tough on everybody. There were steady 25 mile-per-hour winds with gusts up to about 40. The times don’t mean much, but how you they ran does. Everybody was probably about a minute slower. Taylor ran really tough. I think this solidifies where we were in the vote. I’m super proud of how they performed.”
Grove has been the top performer all season for a women’s squad currently rated as the fourth best team in the GPAC. In her latest effort, Grove galloped the muddy 5k course at Noelridge Park in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 19:26.6, which placed her 15th out of the field of 286 runners. On a faster course in North Sioux City, S.D., two weeks earlier, Grove clocked a time of 18:27.18.
Twenty-five women represented the Bulldogs at the meet. Grove was followed in the team’s top seven by freshman Abi DeLoach (19:57.0; 32nd), junior Rebekah Hinrichs (20:00.03; 36th), sophomores Lydia Cook (20:38.9; 79th) and Alyssa Fye (20:42.1; 81st), junior Hannah Rebmann (20:42.9; 82nd) and sophomore Alyssa Bierwagen (21:13.8; 108th).
Like the women’s team, the men have also had a reliable senior as their frontrunner. Josiah McAllister paced the squad with a 17th place finish that was earned in a time of 26:40.6 in the 8k race. McAllister has been the team’s No. 1 runner at every meet except for one.
“The guys did some good things on the team side of things,” Beisel said. “Josiah ran probably the toughest race of his life. He just ran a great, gutsy race. Wyatt Lehr showed toughness mentally and physically. We had a gigantic gap between our Nos. 3 and 4 runners. That’s where the problem is. We have to bring the two groups together if we’re going to accomplish what we want to in conference. I was pleased for the most part.”
On the heels of McAllister, the men’s top seven featured the freshman Lehr (27:20.2; 48th), senior Thomas Taylor (27:22.0; 45th), sophomores Jordan Lorenz (28:28.6; 107th) and Christian Van Cleave (28:36.7; 121st), freshman Ethan Pankow (28:58.3; 135th) and senior Evan Asche (29:04.9; 141st).
Unlike many meets this season, Concordia did not see many of its conference rivals. There were four complete GPAC teams present on the women’s side and three that partook on the men’s side.
Now Beisel’s squads can turn their full attention to the GPAC championships coming up on Saturday, Nov. 3. The meet will be held at North Bend Golf Course in North Bend, Neb. Bids to the NAIA national championships (Nov. 16) will be on the line. The Bulldogs are aiming to improve upon 2017 conference finishes of fifth on the women’s side and sixth on the men’s side. Said Beisel, “Both teams need to run the races of their lives. I know the guys have a better team race in them. We’ll try to put everything together and see what happens.”