The Baker men’s team took third place overall at the 2015 Heart of America Athletic Conference Cross Country championships on Saturday, a mere 6 points behind Mount Mercy for a qualifying spot in the national championship meet. The women’s team finished in the middle of the pack in seventh place overall.
“Overall the season ended in disappointment because of finishing third in conference rather than top two,” senior Gunnar Hays said. “However, a lot of people improved throughout the year and the experience of this season is going to make a big positive difference moving forward.”
Junior Jamie Steury and sophomore Rosie Hollis both qualified individually for the 2015 NAIA Cross Country National Championship to be held on Saturday, Nov. 21, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Steury finished in fifth place overall with a time of 26:45 in the men’s 8K race. Hollis finished in ninth place overall with a time of 19:35 in the women’s 5K race.
“Throughout the year people stepped up at different times but Jamie Steury did the best job of peaking at the right time. Jamie improved throughout the year and had his best race at conference, which earned him a spot in nationals,” Hays said. “Jamie’s performance wasn’t necessarily unexpected because he is a very talented runner, but his progression through the season is a testament to his hard work and abilities.”
On the women’s side, three other Wildcats joined Hollis in the top 40 spots, including Madison Dispensa (34th), Brenda MCollum (35th) and Jenna Black (39th).
On the men’s side, all seven Wildcats finished in the Top 40, as Corey Matteson took 13th, Gunnar Hayes took 24th, Andrew Emanuels finished 30th, Stephen Deveau finished 35th, Andrew Dare took 37th and Joe Linder was 39th.
Historically, the Wildcats have been successful in cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track.
“The key to continuing the winning tradition is to outwork the other teams every single day,” Steury said. “I think about this as motivation to remind myself to work hard every day and get better than my competition.”