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Three ‘Cats Compete at NAIA Championship

The+Baker+men%27s+team+takes+off+for+the+start+of+the+Maple+Leaf+Invitational+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+3%2C+at+the+Baldwin+City+Golf+Course.
The Baker men's team takes off for the start of the Maple Leaf Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Baldwin City Golf Course.

The Baker men's team takes off for the start of the Maple Leaf Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Baldwin City Golf Course.

Cassie Long

Cassie Long

The Baker men's team takes off for the start of the Maple Leaf Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Baldwin City Golf Course.

Story by Bailey Conklin, Sports Editor

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Three Wildcats from the men’s cross country team competed in the 2017 NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Championships in Vancouver, Washington, on Nov. 18.

The Baker runners competed in the 8K race, which featured 328 runners from the NAIA.

In his second year at nationals, sophomore Greg Flores led the ‘Cats with a 143rd place finish and a time of 26:26.

Senior Joe Linder finished in 224th place with a time of 27:15 in his third appearance at the event.

While Linder was happy to make it back to the championship stage in his last season of cross country, he felt that the experience differed than other races because the whole team wasn’t there.

“It was just three of us running at nationals instead of the whole team,” Linder said. “It was pretty different, usually we do this team chant at the beginning and it just wasn’t the same at nationals.”

Linder prepared mentally by reminding himself to race the same as he would any other meet.

“Really, it’s not bigger than any other race,” Linder said. “The title ‘nationals’ is bigger, but if you just go out there with the mentality that your just going to race the same that you’ve raced all year then you’ll be fine.”

Freshman Liam Barnsby competed in his first NAIA Championship event, finishing with a time of 27:41 and placing 259th.

Some of the highs of Barnsby’s first year on the team included running in the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championships at the team’s home course of Baldwin City Golf Course and qualifying for the NAIA Championship as a freshman.

With his first cross country season concluded, Barnsby has some new goals he hopes to achieve.

“Well I can’t really control what will happen in years to come, of course I would love to be a national qualifier in cross country for all of my four years here at Baker,” Barnsby said. “But I feel so thankful that I was able to go this year and experience it, and because of this it makes me want to work hard and get back on the national stage once again.”

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