Peaking at the right time was the order of the day during a mild early November afternoon at Dordt University Saturday, Nov. 9.
Courtesy Mustangs Athletics, click here! Feature photo: Jo McKibbe-Mapleton-Morningside, Emalee Fundermann-Anthon-Morningside and Conner Ritz-Sioux City-Morningside©Mustangs Athletics 2019
With the opportunity for individual and team honors as well as advancement to the 2019 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Championships Friday, Nov. 22, head coach David Nash‘s Morningside College men’s and women’s cross-country teams put the pedal to the metal on the DU course. As the dust settled, the Mustangs found themselves tacking another year of successive first five team finishes. For the men, who’s 102-point total eased them past Northwestern College for third and finished behind the host Defenders (28) and Doane University (44), it was good for an 11th straight residence, and the women, cracking the top four with 119 points, doing so for the fifth straight season.
“Overall, we’re so happy (with what occurred),” Nash said. “Being honest, there was a time, for the men, where we didn’t know what might happen in the team standings as one of the guys was out sick, but they dug deep and when we heard we were third, we went crazy. It’s somewhat uncharted territory for us to finish that high, so there was a reason for celebration.
The women were just as impressive, as you had Jo, who was only running 100s and 200s in track, continuing to drop her lifetime best and Emmalee who struggled a little last season but has worked really hard through the summer and fall and had another strong race today,” he added. “The entire day was just a lot of fun.”
Individually, the Maroon managed to punch at least three tickets to the Fort Vancouver Historic Site in Washington state for the national meet. The potential for a fourth hangs in the balance with the official field announcement Tuesday, Nov. 12.
The women’s tandem of senior Emmalee Fundermann (Anthon, Iowa) and sophomore Jo McKibben (SO/Mapleton, IA) (Mapleton, Iowa) continued their impressive season strides by each winding up in the best 10. McKibben took seventh, taking the proverbial sledgehammer to her previous season-best by over 22 seconds (19:10.6 – 19:32.8 at Mount Marty Oct. 26), while Fundermann crossed the line one place behind her hometown friend in eighth, dropping six seconds off her previous top 2019 mark (19:15.2 – 19:21.5) which occurred during the regular season Dordt meet.
Mside’s men were led by junior Ro Paschal (JR/Mancos, Colo.) (Mancos, Colo.). He clocked a 25:40.7, good for fifth, to take more than 11 seconds off his 25:51.9 at DU early last month. Fellow Class of 2021 member Connor Ritz (JR/Sioux City, IA), a Sioux City native, also etched himself into the top 10, running to a 25:48.4 to place ninth and obliterate his previous season-low mark of 26:14 flat by almost 26 seconds.
Digging deeper, junior Zach Ambrose (JR/Dunlap, IA) (Dunlap, Iowa) made it three in the first 20 (26:26.09). Morningside’s women wound up with three in the top 30, as senior Alex George (Seward, Neb.) ended 28th (19:52.88).