Sun, Nov. 3, 2013 - [Women's Cross Country]
Loras 2nd/8 (43 Points)
Back in August when the days were longer, hotter, and the 2013 season was in its infancy, the Loras College women's cross country team set their sights on a top-3 finish at the IIAC Championship. On Saturday in Pella, Iowa they did one better, finishing with their second best point total ever at the league's championship race.
"I'm incredibly proud of what our team did today," head coach Bob Schultz said on Saturday. "Putting each of our top five runners on the all-conference list is something special."
The Duhawks reached the 43-point total with three runners in the top ten and two more in the top fifteen to reach second place. The 1-2 punch of Mary Rector and Maggie Saenz Ruiz were just three seconds apart and firmly in the third and fourth slots – eight seconds behind second place and nearly 30 seconds ahead of fifth. Rector finished the Central College course in 22:38 and Saenz Ruiz was done in 22:41. The duo was 1-2 back on September 7 in Pella at the Dutch Invitational – a full minute slower than Saturday's pace.
Loras' 3-4-5 spots were claimed by Kellie Wagner (10th), Bri Cook (11th), and Bridget Hall (15th). Each earned All-IIAC honors based on their top-15 finishes. There was a full 31 seconds between the three, but in the end, it was enough to keep the Duhawks score under 45 points. Wagner's time was 23:38, Cook's was 23:53, and Hall's was 24:09.
Schultz was especially impressed with Rector and Saenz Ruiz – and had plenty of praise for Hall's kick as well.
"To finish in the top four individually in our league is a difficult task, and so watching what Mary and Maggie accomplished today was great," Schultz said. "I think it is also important to recognize what Bridget did in the final quarter mile."
Schultz said that in the final moments of the race, Hall trailed the Luther quartet that ended up finishing 16-19.
"She had a sense for where she was and we made sure she knew how important it was to catch that group. She ended up catching all of them, and it was a huge factor in our team points against the Norse," Schultz proclaimed. "It meant about a ten point swing."
Loras had been behind the Norse in the Central Region rankings this fall.
In addition to the success on the course with the Duhawks, Loras earned an award after the race. Head coach Bob Schultz earned IIAC Coach of the Year honors based on his team's performance on Saturday. It is his first such award on the women's side. In 2011, he won the same award on the men's side.
Next up for the Duhawks is the NCAA Division III Central Region Championship at St. Olaf in Northfield, Minnesota on November 16.
"I think we can build on the momentum we gained today and really go out and run well in a couple weeks," said Schultz.