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Waldorf chases down team title in Viterbo Night Flight

Waldorf Warriors LogoBy: Matt Oliver

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin – It was a historic finish for the Waldorf University men’s cross country team as the Warriors captured the program’s first-ever meet championship during the 4th Annual Viterbo Night Flight on Friday.

“It’s definitely pretty exciting,” said Waldorf coach Nathan Christianson, who completed his first meet with the team.

The Warriors chased down the title, turning in a score of 32 points behind four top-10 performances in the season-opening meet. NCAA Division III’s Martin Luther College claimed second with 38 points while North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) foe Viterbo University (56) and NCAA Division III’s Bethany Lutheran College (114) rounded out the team standings.

Bringing home a team championship was a memorable moment for senior Adam Brinkman, who is a founding member of Waldorf’s program that has steadily progressed through the years.

“I know Adam was kind of in tears because he’s been one of the guys who started this,” Christianson said. “It’s good to get a ‘W’ and training through it.”

Nic Ganzeveld led the charge for the Warriors as the junior from Fort Dodge raced to first place with a time of 21 minutes, 45.3 seconds on the four-mile course.

“He really stuck to the game plan, and we had him slowly moving up with the other guys,” Christianson said. “After about two miles, we let him go to chase down some Martin Luther guys and he ended up winning the race.”

Waldorf followed its race strategy from the start.

“We just kind of started the race in a team pack,” Christianson said. “Our goal for the first mile or two was to try to keep as many guys together as possible.”

Junior Marquis Cox battled to third (21:58.3) for the Warriors and senior Nathan Meiners secured seventh (22:33.7) in the race that was shorter than the typical 8K competition.

“We packed early and that probably wasn’t the best for Nathan necessarily, but he understands that the team concept right now is the most important thing,” Christianson said. “When we let him go a little bit earlier, he’ll have more success, and I think Marquis is the same way. We kept those guys up there, and they both had good races. I think those two guys will do better with a longer distance here in a week.”

Waldorf’s Andrew Murley ran strong in his collegiate debut as the freshman from Sac City crossed the finish line in 10th (23:04.2).

“Andrew stepped up,” Christianson said. “It was a little bit of a change for him. He was a big part of our win, and he’s going to be a big part of our program.”

Senior Ovan Garcia earned 11th (23:08.5) to record the final team score for the Warriors.

Waldorf senior Aaron Ward worked his way to 12th (23:11.2) while helping the team gauge the positions of its runners.

“He was a little tired, but he had a pretty good performance and a huge race for us,” Christianson said. “That was our goal was to find those other positions.”

Sophomore Mark Ahlers took 17th (24:00.0) for the Warriors, junior Chasen Selsor ran to 19th (24:20.2), sophomore Jesse Vega placed 20th (24:23.9), senior Cassidy Warson pulled in 23rd (24:50.8), sophomore Jimmy Blankenship came in 29th (25:56.5) and Brinkman finished 30th (26:16.7).

Waldorf’s runners will be tested in their first 8K meet of the season next Saturday when they compete in the Les Duke Invitational, beginning at 10 a.m. at Grinnell. Through the first meet of the season, Christianson saw promising signs from his team.

“We’ve got a meet next week, so we didn’t want to go too hard in the beginning,” Christianson said. “We know if we’re going to try to contend, we’ve got to try to do this as a team. We controlled the start, so I’m really excited about that.”

Next weekend’s meet will not only be a change in distance, but competition as well with NCAA Division III’s Grinnell College being among the teams the Warriors will face.

“Grinnell is a powerhouse,” Christianson said. “Even with them just alone, it’s going to be some better competition. It’ll be interesting to see where our guys match up versus them.”