Men’s cross country wins HAAC title

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Men’s cross country wins HAAC title

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As a freshman, senior Chris Scheideman never imagined the Baker University cross country program would claim conference titles on both the men’s and women’s teams during his career.

However, the last two years have proven his original expectations wrong as the men’s team took home the Heart of America Athletic Conference title Saturday in Fayette, Mo., and the women’s team won the championship in 2010.

“When I joined this program as a freshman, five years ago and it was (head coach Zach) Kindler’s first year, if he would have told me that by the time I left we were going to have conference championships on both sides … I would have told you, you were crazy,” Scheideman said. “How far this program has come under coach Kindler is just tremendous.”

Both teams had goals to win the HAAC Championship all season, and the men accomplished this goal by having five runners finish in the top 15.

The women took home the second place conference title, finishing behind Central Methodist University, but sophomore Lauren Jaqua grabbed first place overall with a time of 18:30.

“(The men’s team) knew that we had an amazing chance at winning conference, and it’s just the fact that our guys stepped up,” Kindler said. “It’s amazing to watch a group of guys put a concept and an idea in their head a year in advance … to see these guys come through was definitely exciting to watch.”

Junior Aaron Caldwell led the men in the 8k with a fifth place finish and a time of 26:01, while all of the Wildcats top seven runners finished within the top 20.

Baker edged out runner-up Graceland University by four points to knock off the defending conference champions.

“They all just truly wanted it, and that’s what it came down to on Saturday,” Kindler said. “Our guys are such a family group of guys that that’s what makes them so accountable on each other and so driven with each other.”

While the women were unable to complete a repeat of the conference championship, Kindler is still happy with the team’s effort at the meet and for the season as a whole.

“Once you get that taste of No. 1 in your mouth it’s hard to take anything else,” Kindler said. “But I’m very proud of what our girls did. I’m excited that we got second and were able to finish that way.”

Jaqua led all runners with a time of 18:30 in the 5k, and sophomore Ashley McBride finished third overall with a time of 19:16. Junior Lindsey Brown and freshmen Kerry Kurta placed 12th and 17th, respectively, to round the Wildcats in the top 20.

Jaqua and McBride earned all-conference honors by placing in the top 10.

The two runners will join the men’s team at the NAIA National Championships in Vancouver, Wash., Nov. 19.

Both women ran at the national championships in 2010.

“I worked really hard all season, and it feels great for it to pay off for the first place finish at conference,” Jaqua said. “And it feels good to lead the team.”