A look back at this fall’s Cross Country season.
By Paul Brunner
The men’s and women’s cross country teams have wrapped up their seasons this past weekend. The season concluded as both teams traveled to Cedarville, Ohio to compete in the NCCAA National Championships.
Looking back on the season, head coach Trey Meadows has nothing but positive things to say about each of his teams; from their work ethic, to their dedication, to their ability to glorify Christ in all they said and did. He could not be more proud for all the hard work and time every athlete put in.
The season began with the Early Bird Meet on August 31. The men’s team finished 2nd and the women started off their season with an impressive performance finishing 1st. The teams went on to run in 5 more meets before they headed off to Ohio to compete in the NCCAA Championships. The men finished 17th, 7th, 6th, 8th, and 7th respectively in those meets. The women finished 16th, 4th, 1st, 3rd, and 5th respectively.
In Ohio, North Central competed against 50 other NCCAA schools. The Championship was hosted by Cedarville University at the Elvin King Cross Country Course.
The men’s team wrapped up their season with a 6th place finish at Nationals. The Rams were led by Sutton Rehwaldt who finished 6th overall, less than 20 seconds off fifth place time, which would have earned him an All-American award. After the meet, senior Austin Muchow received special recognition at the National Awards Banquet for being a NCCAA National Scholar Athlete.
The women’s team ended their season just as they started it; with a 1st place finish. The team grabbed their unprecedented eighth straight victory at the NCCAA Division II National Championship. Annalise Schroeder, Kara Montanez, and Jacie Jawaski each were named NCCAA All-Americans.
The men overcame many challenges this season. Senior captain Muchow recognized the main challenge as having such a small team. “You need five runners to start and finish a race in order for your team to score, and since we only had five runners on the team this meant that no one could be sick or injured for a race,” said Muchow. Yet, the team was able to overcome this challenge due to everyone being committed and showing up ready to work hard every day. Meadows recognized the team’s incredible accomplishment during the season by stating, “To take sixth at nationals was as good an accomplishment as I’ve ever had as a coach, even though we’ve won championships before.”
The women, aside from only having 2 returners, were able to finish off a remarkable year. “But despite what people might see as a lack of experience, we succeeded due to the fact that we had a team with open minds and the willingness to work insanely hard”, says senior captain Meghan Smith. As to what made the team so successful this season, she accredited many things from “waking up before 5AM to sneak in a long run before classes, to running ourselves into complete exhaustion during Tuesday afternoon interval workouts, we practiced and competed as a fierce group of runners.” Meadows was quick to recognize the character and work ethic of this team. “The character of this team was the reason there was any sort of success. There were never any excuses,” says Meadows.
As the off-season is now upon the teams, each team looks to build off this year’s success as they look forward to competing again next year.