Dordt College News

Cross country finishes strong

January 23, 2012

The entire Dordt College men’s cross country team returned to the NAIA National Championship in fall 2011 for the first time since 1980.

The Defenders earned a trip to the event by winning a second place finish at the Great Plains Athletic Conference Championship, taking the conference’s automatic berth with a runner-up finish to NCAA Division III member Nebraska Wesleyan.

The 2011 GPAC championship meet marked the culmination of a season of steady improvement for the team.

“Going into the season I knew that our men’s team had a lot of potential,” said Coach Greg Van Dyke who earned GPAC Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year Honors. “We were young the year before and finished quite well in the 2010 GPAC meet.”

Dordt’s top finisher was Ryan Tholen with a ninth place time of 26:44. His teammates weren’t far behind. Nathan Jackson was 12th in 26:50, with Tim Bierma and Jeremy Van Woerden finishing right next to each other in 19th and 20th place with times of 27:10 and 27:11. Dordt’s fifth runner, Eric Tudor,  clocked a 27:24 time for 26th place to complete the Dordt scoring.

“Having it come together at the GPAC meet was great, especially for senior Eric Tudor,” said Van Dyke. “Eric has been a great leader on the team for the past four years, and it was rewarding to see him qualify for Nationals for the first time in his career as a senior captain.”

Tholen and Jackson earned all-GPAC honors with their finishes.

Steve Olson and Trent Kischer were the final Dordt runners to factor into scoring in the meet, pushing other places down with a 32nd and 33rd finish respectively in 27:46 and 27:52.

“I challenged our men to position themselves towards the front of the pack at the beginning of the race,” said Van Dyke. “I felt we had one of the deepest teams, 1st runner to 10th runner, and  that it was worth the risk starting out fast. If we could get five guys to hold position we would have a good result.

“Our men’s team carried a lot of momentum into the final weeks of the season and they believed they could accomplish their goal of qualifying for Nationals,” said Van Dyke, who changed their training regimen during the season.

“I credit the team for putting in the work that was needed throughout the whole season and keeping their intensity to the end. In the past I feel like we backed off our training a little too much at the end of the season. I think that helped both physically and mentally.”


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