Cross country teams finish in top three at GLIAC championships

The women’s and men’s cross country teams performed well this weekend at the GLIAC championships in Hammond, Indiana: The teams finished second and third, respectively.

On the women’s side, four athletes gained All-GLIAC honors, as three men achieved the same feat.

Junior Morgan Fuerst led the women’s team, finishing the race sixth overall. She was followed by Jenna Keiser who ran a lifetime best at the 6,000-meter distance, finishing 13th.

Following close behind Keiser was sophomore Katelyn Spooner, finishing 15th, and senior Sydney Kreger, who finished in 17th.

The team’s performance was the best in recent history, as the second-place finish as a team is the highest since 2012.

First year coach Eric Phillips said he was pleased with his team’s performance.

“The ladies came into the meet knowing that we might be able to do something pretty special,” Phillips said. “It was an incredibly tight race, and we just narrowly edged out Michigan Tech by three points.”

The women’s team has responded well to Phillip’s training plan as Fuerst said she felt prepared for the weekend’s competition.

“It was definitely tough, but I felt the strongest and most confident I’ve felt all season,” Fuerst said.

Following the women’s race was the men’s 8,000-meter race.

The men were led by sophomore CarLee Stimpfel, who finished the race second overall with a time of 24:11. Stimpfel was followed by second year runner, Dayton Brown, who had a third-place finish. The dominance of young Cardinal runners continued, as sophomore Ryan Talbott followed Brown, finishing eighth.

Rounding out the last two scoring spots for the men were Sam Deardorff and Alex Grifka.

Starting more conservatively than other runners, Brown began to move up at the halfway point of the race.

“I started rolling and tried to continue to pick guys off the rest of the race,” Brown said. “Talbott and I worked together the last half and closed on the Michigan Tech guys.”

With both teams finishing towards the top of their races, coach Eric Phillips is impressed with just how far they’ve come.

“The GLIAC is without a doubt one of the toughest conferences in the nation,” Phillips said. “For our men and women to show up and compete the way they did today shows a tremendous amount of strength, wisdom and maturity, from an overall young group on both sides.”

The team will take next weekend off before competing at the NCAA DII Midwest Regional Championships in Evansville, Indiana, on Nov. 9. After this week’s performances, Fuerst is confident the teams can make it to the national championships.

“After placing second at conferences, we have a really good shot of making the meet,” Fuerst said. “We just keep getting stronger as a team.”

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