Dordt College News

GPAC Cross Country Titles To Be Decided Saturday

November 6, 2013

Photos Courtesy Mark Steiger

Meet Time… The Great Plains Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships will be run on Saturday, November 9 at Seward, Nebraska hosted by Concordia University.  The meet will be run on Concordia’s campus, just to the east of the athletic complex and football field.

The women’s race will start at 10:45 am and the men’s race will be run at 11:30.

Women’s race course

Men’s race course

Participants…All 11 Great Plains Athletic Conference members will field teams in the event.  Nebraska Wesleyan competes as an NCAA Division III opponent in cross country and does not factor in to the scoring for NAIA Championship qualification.  If Wesleyan wins the title the runner-up earns the automatic berth for the national meet in Lawrence, Kansas on Saturday, November 23.

Last Year… The Dordt College Defender women's cross country team claimed its first ever GPAC Championship with a dominating performance at the conference championship race on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at McCook Lake, South Dakota hosted by Briar Cliff. The Defenders took the low total with 25 points to win the team title over their nearest competitors, Concordia and Nebraska Wesleyan with 91 points each.

Dordt took places three through eight on the way to the team title and the seventh runner for the Defenders in the scoring was 31st. Dordt's top five runners were separated by just 20 seconds in earning a team berth at the NAIA National Meet to be held on November 17 in Vancouver, Washington.

Lauren Opp was the first across for the Defenders with a time of 18:00 for third overall. Merissa Harkema came in fourth with a time of 18:15 and the next four runner came across in short order for Dordt. Kayla Byl was in at 18:17, Abby De Vries was right behind in sixth with a time of 18:18. Next was Renee Buikema with a time of 18:20 and Katie Bonnema was less than a second out behind Buikema for a eighth place time. Lillie Koerner clocked a 19:09 and was the second pusher for the Defenders, not figuring into the team score.

Concordia's Sarah Kortze and Jena Schwalenberg were first and second with times of 17:11 and 17:45 over the 5,000 meter course.

95 runners and 11 teams competed in the meet. Dordt's women will advance to the NAIA National meet at Vancouver, Washington.

"Our ladies put everything together today," said Dordt College coach Greg Van Dyke. "We ran a great team race with a 1-6 spread of 20 seconds. The team is excited to make a strong run at the National Championships Meet."

Final Standings
Dordt 25
Concordia 91
Nebraska Wesleyan 91
Doane 99
Morningside 131
Hastings 159
Northwestern 162
Mount Marty 186
Midland 219
Dakota Wesleyan 295
Briar Cliff 341

The Dordt College Defender men's cross country team placed fifth .

The Defenders were led by Ryan Tholen with a fifth place finish of 25:19, 11 seconds behind the winner. Nathan Jackson finished eighth in a time of 25:31. Both Tholen and Jackson qualify for the national meet on Saturday, November 17 at Vancouver, Washington with their finishes.

Tim Bierma was 30th in the race with a time of 26:13 and Ryan McNamara was 35th in 26:32. Dordt's final counting score was Jake Byma with a 37th place time of 26:35 and Trent Kischer was 43rd in 26:47. Derek opp was Dordt's seventh runner with a time of 26:56 for 51st place.

Concordia won the team title with 48 points. Eleven teams and 94 runners competed in the annual race.

Final Standings
Concordia 48
Morningside 55
Nebraska Wesleyan 75
Doane 84
Dordt 115
Northwestern 163
Mount Marty 198
Hastings 224
Midland 261
Dakota Wesleyan 298
Briar Cliff 299

Last Time… The Dordt College Defender women’s cross country team took the team title at the Mount Marty Invite on Saturday, October 26 in Yankton, South Dakota. The Defenders won in dominating fashion as they had five runners in the top-10 and their top seven runners finished in the top-15.

The Defenders totaled 28 points on a day where the second place finisher, South Dakota State, had a 71 for second place in the 13 team field.

Dordt was led by Lauren Opp’s time of 18:28 for third place, leading a string of four runners in a row for Dordt. Kayla Byl finished fourth in 18:46 while Renee Buikema and Abby De Vries were next across in 18:54 and 18:55. Lillie Koerner completed the first five for Dordt with a tenth place time of 19:09 and Jordyn Visscher was 11th overall in a time of 19:12. Justine Van Zee finished seventh for Dordt on the 5,000 meter course in 19:26 and was 15th overall.

129 runners competed in the race with Mount Marty’s Katie Smelker clocking an 18:21 for first place. Dordt’s spread in the top-five was 41 seconds and the top seven kept the spread under a minute.

The Dordt College Defender men’s cross country team also had a strong showing at the Mount Marty Invite in Yankton, South Dakota, finishing third in the 13 team field. The Defenders had 75 points while Concordia won the event with 38 points and Dickinson State took second with 67 points.

Dordt was led by Nick Vanderkooi’s 26:00 time for sixth place on the 8,000 meter course Nathan Jackson and Tim Bierma were 15th and 18th respectively with times of 26:17 and 26:22. Chris Postma recorded a 23rd place time of 26:37 and Derek Opp was the fifth runner across for Dordt with a time of 26:48 which was good for 29th overall. Trent Kischer and Steve Kelly completed the top-seven for Dordt with times of 27:01 and 27:18 for 37th and 47th in the 159 runner field.

Dickinson State’s Dante Carter run a time of 25:24 for the individual title and Concordia’s Ben Sievert wasn’t far behind for second in 25:27.

Photos courtesy Mark Steiger

GPAC History…Dordt’s best finish in the men’s race was in 2011 when they were a runner-up to Nebraska Wesleyan and claimed the automatic berth to the NAIA National Meet.  Wesleyan has won ten of the 13 GPAC titles and Concordia has the other three.  There have been two repeat individual champions over the course of the championships history.  Andrew Walquist won back to back titles for Concordia in 2003 and 2004 and Zach Meineke won the race for Concordia in 2008 and 2009.

Nebraska Wesleyan has won ten women’s titles including a tie in 2005.  Dordt broke a six year stranglehold on the title by the Prairie Wolves with last year’s performance.  Molly Engel claimed three individual titles from 2002-2004.  Dordt’s Jen Kempers won the race in 2008 and Michelle Steiger claimed the title in 2010.  Brittany Hubbard was a repeat winner in 2005 and 2006 for Nebraska Wesleyan.

Poll…Dordt’s women moved to no. 5 in the poll released last week.  The Defenders improved four spots in the poll from the previous week.

The Defender men were one of two GPAC teams in the poll last week and were no. 23 in the voting.  It’s the fourth week in a row they’ve been in the poll.

A new poll will be released at the conclusion of all the conference meets held this weekend.  The poll that determines at large berths for the NAIA National Meet will be released on Sunday, November 10.

Next… The NAIA National Championship Meet will be run on Saturday, November 23 at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, Kansas.

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