A group of three seniors is ready to lead the Central College women’s cross country team into a new era.
Courtesy Dutch Athletics, click here! Feature photo ©Jim Kirby-2014
“I think it’s going to be a year of transition, we have great leadership,” said coach Joe Dunham. “We have a group of young women who have been in the program for a few years and their leadership is going to be fantastic. We’re bringing in a great class, some runners who I think can contribute right away, which is exciting and a little bit different for our program.”
Central returns five letterwinners from last season’s fifth place Iowa Conference team.
Missy Charlton (Cedar Rapids, Linn-Mar HS) returns for the Dutch after competing in three races a year ago.
“Missy has been such a committed runner to our program,” said Dunham. “She works extremely hard. We’re excited to see her go out on a positive note this season and hopefully we can keep her healthy.”
Evie Kammeyer (Urbandale) placed 19th at the league championship race, finishing the 6,000-meter course in 23 minutes and 43 seconds. Kammeyer is a three-year letterwinner for Central.
“Evie is a big-time leader for our program,” said Dunham. “We feel she’s a varsity runner for us and a major contributor for us.”
Holly McKinney (Saint Charles, Interstate 35 HS) ran a season-best 23:01 at the Connecticut College Invitational last season and placed 35th. McKinney joins Kammeyer as a three-year letterwinner.
“Holly is another great leader for our program,” said Dunham. “She’s another varsity runner for us and we expect her to be a major contributor for us.”
Rachel Peter (Prairie City, PCM HS) is the top returning runner for Central after finishing as the lead runner in four of the seven races last season. Peter has lettered in both of her first two seasons at Central.
“Rachel is excited to have Holly and Evie back to train with after they were gone studying abroad last semester,” said Dunham. “She really came into her own last year and had some great races.”
A group of committed runners has Dunham feeling extremely positive about the future of the program. The sophomore class includes Savanna Henning (Ankeny, Centennial HS), Carly Klavins (Urbandale), Ashley Meldrum (Cambridge, Ballard HS), Lauren Moll (Faribault) and Anna Roslien (Pella).
“We have a good group of dedicated runners in our sophomore class,” he said. “This group has a lot of women who are excited to step up and it’s going to be interesting to see which one of them do that. Overall, I’m excited about our sophomore class.”
Moll has shown promise and the coaching staff is ready to see her progress after a letterwinner season last year.
“Lauren is such a strong-minded woman and can really race well,” said Dunham. “I’m excited to see what her season looks like.”
Roslien was the fifth letterwinner from a year ago.
The freshman class has some potential immediate contributors. The coaching staff is eager to begin the development process.
“We’re looking to have some of the freshmen contribute right away and there are also runners who need a year of development and continue to improve.”
The annual Dutch Invitational at Central’s highly regarded on-campus course gets the season rolling September 1 at 6 p.m. The Wartburg College Invitational race has extra significance this year for the Dutch.
“We’re going to Wartburg because they are hosting the conference meet, so we’ll be going there earlier in the season so we can get a feel for the course,” Dunham said. “It’s a little different course and I think experience is needed.”
Central travels to Northfield, Minn for the NCAA Division III Central Regional November 11.
After sending a lone runner to the NCAA Division III Championships a year ago, the Central College men’s cross country has its sights set on capturing the Iowa Conference title.
Courtesy Dutch Athletics, click here!
There’s an annual theme for the Dutch and this year is no different.
“Our goal every year is to win a conference championship and it is again this year,” said coach Joe Dunham.
This year’s squad is anchored by a senior class of six, all of whom have grown while in the program.
“The seniors have been a huge part of our program ever since they were freshmen,” said Dunham. “They came in as freshmen and have developed over the years. I think all six of them are going to be guys that can contribute in some way to our program. We’re reliant on their experience to help the younger guys develop in our program as well.”
Jeremy Caracci (Johnston) finished 129th in the conference meet last season and will be looked upon as a contributor again.
“Jeremy has been such a leader on and off the course for us,” said Dunham. “He’s one of those guys that will do anything that a coach asks him to do. He’s going to be sorely missed.”
Taylor Donner (Dubuque) competed at the NCAA Division III Regional for Central and placed 98th, running the 8,000-meter course in Northfield, Minn. in 27 minutes and four seconds.
“Taylor has been one of those consistent runners for our team,” said Dunham. “He’s been a committed runner. Taylor is going to be fighting for a spot and I think he can really contribute for us this year.”
ark Fairley (Dubuque) qualified for the national meet last fall and finished 61st with a 25:12. Fairley is coming off an All-American performance in the outdoor track and field season, finishing second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
“Mark’s junior year was really a defining moment for him,” said Dunham. “Last year he was forced to become the leader of the team and his confidence is extremely high coming into this year. He has to make sure that he doesn’t put too much pressure on himself and just do what he’s capable of doing.”
Tanner Rathje (Marion, Linn-Mar HS) competed in every Dutch race in 2016 and will be a key piece in this year’s squad.
“Tanner was one of the top recruits in this class and he will be a varsity runner for us,” said Dunham. “He’s a captain for us and he’s a guy who provides a lot of leadership for our team.”
Kyle Schelling (Sioux Center) raced in the opener last season but injuries cut his season short.
“Kyle has been a loyal and extremely committed member of this team,” said Dunham. “He has improved dramatically over his career at Central College despite battling some injuries. I am really excited for his last season here at Central and can’t wait to see what he accomplishes.”
Jon Specht (Dubuque, Hempstead HS) has battled injuries over his career at Central and Dunham is looking forward to seeing him have a fully healthy season.
“Jon’s commitment to this program has been unprecedented,” he said. “Jon is a guy that the team is really going to need to step up.”
Ben Stelk (Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) competed in four races a year ago and finished with a season-best 28:28 at the regional meet.
“Ben has really battled injuries and our goal this year is for him to stay healthy,” said Dunham.
“Colin and Jordan had great springs for us,” said Dunham. “Jordan was in the best shape of his life last spring and was really running well. Colin had probably his best overall season last spring on the track. We expect nothing but improvement from those guys.”
Kyle Pape (Dubuque, Wahlert HS) continues to get better in Dunham’s eyes..
“Kyle is probably the most improved distance runner we’ve had in a long time at Central,” he said. “He’s a top-tier runner for us now and we’re going to be relying on him this year.”
Parker Hill (Bettendorf) is another Dutch runner that needs to lose the injury bug.
“He’s battled injuries and needs to stay healthy,” said Dunham. “He’s a very competitive runner and we are excited about him.”
After a year of experience, the sophomore class continues to develop.
“We’ve got a number of guys we’re starting to see some really good things out of,” said Dunham. “They need to continue to stick with the program. Their bodies are just beginning to adjust to what we do here at Central. We’ll know a lot more about that group after this year. That freshman to sophomore jump is huge. We saw some really good things from Nick Cooper (Sheboygen, Wis., South HS) and Preston Kizer(Dubuque) and we’re really looking forward to seeing what they can do.”
There are seven other sophomores that will add depth to the team.
The freshman class has some potential contributors right away but the coaching staff is eager to get to work and begin the development process for the group.
“We’re looking to have some of the freshmen contribute right away on both sides and there are also runners that need a year of development and continue to improve.”
Central opens its campaign with its annual Dutch Invitational at Central’s highly regarded on-campus course September 1 beginning at 6 p.m. The Dutch head to the Wartburg Invitational September 30 for a preview of the course that is hosting the league championships October 28. A highly competitive NCAA Division III Central Regional is scheduled in Northfield, Minn. November 11.