WHITTINGTON, Ill. - The Iowa Lakes women's cross country team placed 34th out of 40 complete teams at the NJCA Div. 1 National meet on Saturday.
"Overall the women ran very good races at this meet," said Iowa Lakes coach Molly Struve. "Our main team goal was to finish ahead of DMACC, who beat us by only one point at the Regional Meet. We beat them by over 100 points and Sam was able to pass two people from their team at the end. For our region, we finished fifth overall, out of eight teams. We weren't able to beat Southwestern, which was our other goal, but that gives us something to strive for next fall. "
Leah Courtney paced the Lakers in 85th place in 20 minutes, 33 seconds on the 5K course. Sydney Park finished 213th in 22:30 followed by Melissa Gjerde in 234th in 23:05, Karen Gonzalez in 260th in 23:37 and Sam Piehl in 269th in 24:13.
Also running was Alyssa Ayers who finished in 275th in 24:35.
"Although Leah did not have a personal best time, this was a good finish for her," said Struve. "The goal for her was to finish at least in the top 100, since there were close to 300 runners, and she did this easily.
"Sydney, who has only run in a few meets this season due to a stress fracture, had a very good race as well," Struve continued. " She went out strong and kept her pace throughout; she is one of the main reasons we were able to place like we did as a team. Melissa, Karen, Sam and Alyssa all ran strong races to finish out their season and packed together to finish within a little over a minute of each other.
Park and Gjerde are the only sophomores on the team.
They have had a huge impact on our team scores this year, since they typically finish second and third for the team," said Struve. "The rest of our women's team will be returning next fall."
The Iowa Lakes men's team did not have enough runners to count toward team scoring, so it was more about individual placement at this meet.
Teague Anderson finished in 261st in 31:55 on the 8K course while Kyle Kephart placed 270th in 32:52, Andrew Kruger placed 280th in 34:38 and Luke Hinton placed 283rd in 35:26.
"Teague and Kyle both ran very strong and finished close to their personal best times," said Struve. "The fact that they ran this well and still finished in the 200s shows how competitive the NJCAA Division 1 level is. Teague has been running better at each meet and I look for him to use this experience next fall to perform even better. Kyle looked much stronger at this meet than he has in the past month and I am happy he was able to finish under 33:00.
"Andrew, who is usually our first runner on the men's side, struggled with stomach pains for most of the race and ended up finishing third for our team," Struve continued. "Luke added a little time at this meet too, due to arch pain, but still finished within a minute of Andrew. Teague, Kyle and Andrew will all be returning next fall."