Cross country finishes strong


Willie Brown/The Chart

Junior Eric Schott and senior Jake Benton run together at the Southern Stampede where the Lions finished in first place.

As the cross country teams arrived in Sioux Falls, S.D., last Friday, there was snow on the ground with the temperature in the 30s, but that did not stop the runners from performing at the Division II Cross Country Central Regional Championships on Saturday.

The snow melted, the temperature rose and the men’s team finished third overall, qualifying for the NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championships on Nov. 23.

Senior Jake Benton was the first to cross the finish line for the Lions with a time of 31:58.47 for an overall ninth place finish.

“I’ve been fueled all season by the goals of being top four in the nation as a team and being an All-American individually,” Benton said.

The next Southern runner to complete the race was junior Adrian Todd with a time of 21:28.32. Then it was junior Eric Schott with a time of 32:42.19. Todd finished 21st overall and Schott 25th.

Benton, Todd and Schott earned All-Region honors for their performances at the regional race and throughout the season

Out of 157 runners in the race, every member of the men’s team finished in the top 70. Junior Webster finished 27th overall followed by junior Colton Wooldridge at 34 then sophomore Ryan Jackson and freshman William Rush.

“As a team at conference and regionals we had good races, but when it comes down to one point, the individual efforts need to be just a little more,” said Head Coach Brian Schiding.  “And literally it’s the matter of beating one more person.”

The Lions finished the meet with 116 points, just one point behind the University of Central Missouri again.

The women’s team finished 12th overall, and junior Dora Eastin finished fifth overall, qualifying individually for the Division II Cross Country National Championships.

Eastin raced the 6k course with a time of 21:23:71 and was the second highest MIAA finisher of the race, earning All-Region honors.

The Lions’ second runner to cross the finish line was sophomore Addie Mengwasser with a time of 22:33.93 followed by sophomore Emily Harris and sophomore Dana Roberson.

“I was really happy with this team,” said Patty Vavra, head coach of women’s track and cross-country. “They fought through some adversity this year at the same time never given up, never talked about. They went full force and worked hard all year.”

The final three runners for the women’s team were freshmen Lizzy Kirby, Sierra Gray and Kayla Bartelsmeyer.

Eastin will travel along with the men’s team to Spokane, Wash. for the National Championship meet on Nov. 23.