Teams travel to nationals and bring back hardware
2013 brought a successful season for North Central’s cross country teams. The men claimed first place at the NCCAA national tournament in Cedarville, Ohio on Nov. 16. The women followed close behind with a second place victory. Both teams are coached by North Central alumni Trey Meadows.
At the national tournament, Meadows received recognition as the 2013 NCCAA Division II National Coach of the Year. Meadows has been the cross country head coach since 2008, and the school has obtained six championship banners under his direction.
Sutton Rehwaldt, junior biblical studies major and co-captain of the men’s team, received the NCCAA individual national championship with a race time that is the 13th fastest in the 8k program history. Rehwaldt was also awarded the John and Jody Wheeler Award for outstanding Christian character, academic excellence and athletic performance.
“No one at NCU has ever won the Wheeler award,” explained Rehwaldt. “It was very unexpected.”
Beating her personal record by 4 seconds with a time of 19:42.29, sophomore American sign language interpreting major Annalise Schroeder earned the individual NCCAA national championship for the women.
Support from the school and administration has been essential to the team’s ability to attend the national tournament. Supplied with a bus and excused from classes, the trip to nationals began after the team attended chapel together on Nov. 13. They arrived in Ohio the following afternoon on Nov. 14 and ran together as a team at a cross country-only facility.
While preparing for the event, Meadows was able to teach the athletes about the history of the team, preparing them both physically and mentally to compete with strength and confidence.
On Nov. 15, the team previewed the course on which they were to run to become familiar with the territory and be able to focus solely on the race.
At the completion of the tournament that was hosted by Cedar University, the athletes attended the national awards banquet, loaded the bus with their many prizes and headed home. The athletes were excited to feast together as a team as they had to be careful about what they put into their bodies during the season. It is a long-standing tradition to eat a big meal, including junk food, on the way back to school at the end of their last competition.
As a captain, Rehwaldt was most excited that the freshmen and new members of both the men’s and women’s teams were able to experience a national championship. He is currently on his third season with the team, and he believes this is the first year they really worked towards building a good team.
Meadows agrees. “Those guys worked so hard, and it’s been a really great accomplishment…I don’t know that there’s any team that’s experienced the kind of success we have [in our program].”
Meadows attributed the team’s achievements to hard work and a hunger for success.