NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. – Senior Taylor Grove and the Concordia University women’s cross country team put together a breakthrough performance on Saturday (Oct. 6) that they hope will give them serious consideration for placement in the next NAIA top 25 poll. The Bulldog women placed fourth out of 14 teams at the Briar Cliff Invitational at Adams Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, S.D. Meanwhile, the men’s squad placed sixth out of 12 teams at the meet.
Third-year head coach Matt Beisel’s programs were in competition at their fourth official meet of the 2018 season. The women moved up a rung in the GPAC ladder with their latest outing.
“Our women completely knocked it out of the park,” Beisel said. “We really wanted to beat Morningside. We’ve been sitting fifth in the conference for several meets and finishing just short of Morningside. Today all of our girls were healthy and the weather was perfect. The addition of a healthy Hannah Rebmann has definitely been a boost that our team needs. We also had so many of our girls run the race of their lives. Our top seven girls were all under 19 minutes and 50 seconds.”
It was the race of Grove’s life, at least to date. She ran a personal best by nearly 30 seconds while finishing the 5k race in 18:27.18. She placed fourth overall in continuing to see her stock rise. The native of Billings, Mont., really seemed to hit her stride during outdoor track last season when she won the GPAC title in the 10k and qualified for nationals in the marathon. Said Beisel, “She definitely showed she has legit national capability individually.”
What Beisel also liked about his team’s performance is how it packed things in closely. Sixteen Bulldog women navigated the 5k course in under 21 minutes. An aggressive approach paid off on Saturday. Following Grove, the rest of the team’s top seven included junior Rebeka Hinrichs (18:52.97; 12th), freshman Abi DeLoach (18:56.74; 13th), junior Hannah Rebmann (19:09.31; 19th), sophomore Lydia Cook (19:36.81; 38th), junior Miranda Rathjen (19:44.84; 41st) and senior Jacy Johnston (19:49.52; 44th).
On the men’s side, senior Josiah McAllister paced the Bulldogs with a 13th place claim. He finished the 8k race in 26:11.15. McAllister has been the team’s top finisher at three meets in a row. Among Bulldogs, McAllister was followed in the lineup by senior Thomas Taylor (26:37.36; 23rd), freshman Wyatt Lehr (26:58.12; 39th), sophomore Jordan Lorenz (27:05.63; 42nd), senior Evan Asche (27:17.12; 50th), sophomore Christian Van Cleave (27:31.10; 56th) and freshman Ethan Pankow (28:03.93; 76th).
“On the guys side we had a large number of personal and season bests,” Beisel said. “They ran individually pretty well. Our goal was to potentially move from our third spot (in the GPAC ratings) into second and catch Northwestern. That’s where we didn’t have the day that we wanted. The guys took off and immediately got separated at the beginning and just never reconnected. There was pretty significant space between each guy. They talked about it all the way back on the bus. I think they have the fitness to do the job, they just need to put it all together.”
There were 166 runners on the women’s side and 145 on the men’s side at the Briar Cliff Invite. The Concordia women placed above seven GPAC opponents while the men beat out four conference rivals.
The next competition date will be Saturday, Oct. 20 when the Seminole Valley Stampede hosted by Mount Mercy University unfolds. Seminole Valley Park in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will serve as the venue for a meet set to get started at 10:30 a.m. CT. It will be the final time out before the GPAC championships (Nov. 3).