Wildcats women’s cross country team takes conference, qualify to race at nationals

Story by Kyle Davis

Freshman Megan Rosa crossed the finish line of the HAAC Championships Saturday in Baldwin City, finishing fifth individually, knowing she qualified for the NAIA national meet.

But,this was not what Rosa was most concerned with.

Rosa wanted to know if the Baker University women’s cross country team had become HAAC champions. Rosa was soon told the team had won the conference and is headed to Vancouver, Wash.

“We’ve all just grown so close, they’re basically my family and it’s just so exciting to get the opportunity to represent Baker and our conference with those girls and to be able to go to the national meet,” Rosa said.

The Wildcats defeated runner-up William Jewell College by 11 points, after placing seven runners in the top 20 in the 5K race.

Freshman Lauren Jaqua led the team by finishing second overall with a time of 19:00.

Other Wildcats finishing in the top 10 were sophomore Lindsey Brown, sixth, and Baker Orange staff member Mary Loveland, who finished eighth.

“I don’t think we have raced any better than what we raced on Saturday,” Rosa said. “(Head coach Zach Kindler) even described it afterward as the perfect race. Everyone did exactly what they needed to do for us to finish as well as we did, so it was really a big team effort.”

Kindler was named the women’s conference coach of the year after the race.

The Baker men’s team finished second in the conference meet, unable to catch up to Graceland University, which won the conference with 16 points.

Junior Chris Scheideman’s 10th-place finish in the 8K race, with a time of 26:52, not only was the top placing for the Wildcats, but it qualified him for nationals as an individual runner.

Also finishing in the top 20 were sophomores Aaron Caldwell, 11th, Corey Clark, 12th and Taylor Nall, who placed 17th.

With no seniors on the men’s team, this lineup will be back next year with another chance to defeat Graceland.

“It definitely feels great to have a bunch of freshmen and sophomores on the team just because, you know, although we might not win this year, next year we have a good shot of getting back to Graceland and winning it all,” Clark said.

With the conference tournament in Baldwin City, the teams were familiar with the course after running it at least once a week.

“We knew that course like the back of our hand and we knew the hills and everywhere we needed to push, so I think not only that, but then having the big Baker crowd out there really helped us,” Brown said.

The Wildcats will stand at the starting line for the final time of the 2010 season at the NAIA Nationals Nov. 20 in Vancouver, Wash.

“Over this season, we’ve just come together and we’re strong and know each other and we’re comfortable with each other and we’re used to each other,” Brown said. “So, being able to go as a team, it really says a lot from where we’ve come from the beginning of the season and what we’ve been able to do.”