Cross country finishes season at nationals

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Cross country finishes season at nationals

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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Baker University’s men’s cross country team finished its season taking 31st place in the NAIA national meet.

Thirty-six teams took to the course at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence on Nov. 22. Oklahoma City University took the top spot, winning its second national title in a row.

For the Wildcats, sophomore Jamie Steury was the top finisher, crossing the finish line 202nd with a time of 27:16. Just behind Steury were junior Gunnar Hays and sophomore Corey Matteson, who finished with times of 27:30 and 27:31, respectively. Rounding out the top five BU runners were freshman Eduardo Esquivel and senior Vincent Takodoro.

This capped off the season for the HAAC champion Wildcats, who earned their third conference championship in four years.

In addition to the team’s accomplishments, interim coach Tim Byers received HAAC Coach of the Year honors for his efforts throughout the season, especially at the HAAC champion meet in Auburn, Nebraska.

“We thought it was going to be a flat course because of where we were, but it ended up being pretty hilly,” Byers said. “They took it all in stride, didn’t complain, and ran their hearts out.”

He was proud of the way his team overcame adversity over the season, including the death of former head track and field coach Zach Kindler in August.

“This team came over a lot of obstacles this year, and I’m just so proud of them,” Byers said. “They came to practice every day wanting to work hard and get better, and they did that.”

Sophomore Rachel Ash qualified individually for the women’s national meet and finished 170th with a time of 19:52 in a 5k race. The women finished the conference in second place, and Ash is confident that the team will improve in the coming seasons.

“To have the success that we had this season, I’m super proud of the girls,” Ash said. “I’m excited for the next couple of years to see what we can do.”