March 28, 2023

Dawson County Journal

Dawson County, Nebraska

Loper Cross Country Has Big Day

Kearney, Neb. – The Nebraska Kearney cross country teams finished second (men) and fourth (women) at the 2022 NCAA Central Regional Saturday afternoon in Joplin, Mo.

Missouri Southern State hosted the event at the Tom Rutledge Cross Country Course. The men ran a 10k at 10 a.m. with the women starting at 11:15 and running a 6k. The top three teams on each side advance to the NCAA Championships Dec. 2 (Fri.) in Seattle; 10 more teams will receive at-large bids when those are handed out on Monday (Nov. 18). Additionally, individuals not on an advancing team will also head to Washington (24 total; 16 auto and eight at-large).

The 15th-ranked men scored 72 points to trail only 8th-ranked MSSU (70). UNK came in ahead of four other Top 30 teams and returns to the NCAA’s for a second straight fall and for the 10th time in program history.

The second-place effort ties the 1994 squad for highest finish at regionals. Additionally, the 70 points trails only the 64 points scored by the 1991 Lopers. Of note, the regional now comprises over 30 schools where in the early 1990’s there was less than 15 teams running.

On the women’s side, 23rd-ranked UNK women scored 146 points to have its highest-ever finish at regionals. The 2021, 2007 and 1997 Lopers each finished sixth with the point tally trailing on the 119 tallied last November. Receiving the Central’s three auto spots to Seattle were No. 6 Augustana (62), No. 15 Pittsburg State (120) and No. 14 Minnesota State (127). UNK beat three other nationally-ranked squads.

Individually, the men had all five of its scorers in the Top 25. They were Iowa redshirt sophomore Myles Bach (5th/29:25.1), McCool Junction redshirt senior Luke Stuckey (6th/29:26.8), Ainsworth redshirt junior Ben Arens (14th/29:42.3), Juniata redshirt senior Justin Vrooman (22nd/30:13.6) and Kansas sophomore Brett Schoenhofer (25th/30:18.2). Missouri Southern’ s Gidieon Kimutai (29:09.4) paced the field of 209.

The UNK women had its top five all finish in the Top 34. Lindsay Cunningham of Winona State (19:34.8) was the winner with 229 runners crossing the line.

The balanced Lopers were paced by Omaha redshirt junior Hannah Pollan (24th/21:22.7), Fremont sophomore Mara Hemmer (27th/21:29.3), Kearney redshirt sophomore Grace Bonsall (28th/21:30.4), Funk redshirt senior Baylee Alstrom (33rd/21:35.0) and Albion sophomore Jordan Soto-Stopak (34th/21:36.5).

The last UNK women’s cross team to reach a national meet was the 1987 squad who placed 20th at the NAIA Championships in Parkside, Wisc.

Source: Regional Sports