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Warriors race to seventh in Les Duke Invitational

Waldorf Warriors LogoBy Aaron Schneider

GRINNELL – The Waldorf University men’s cross country team raced to seventh place in Saturday’s Les Duke Invitational, closing out the meet with a team score of 211 points.

“I was really excited with how we competed,” Waldorf coach Nathan Christianson said. “It was a pretty tough course and there was a lot of mud on the course.”

Seventeen teams competed in the meet and the field consisted of 10 NCAA Division III schools, which included Wartburg College, Augustana College, Central College, Grinnell College, Cornell College, Principia College, Monmouth College, the University of Dubuque, Carleton College and Knox College.

“We just went out and competed against some tough competition, which included some top-notch Division III programs,” Christianson said.

Waldorf junior Nic Ganzeveld captured 13th with a of 28 minutes, 28.1 seconds on the 8K course at the Grinnell Golf & Country Club while junior Marquis Cox battled to 15th (28:30.2). Ganzeveld and Cox earned individual honors with their top-20 performances.

“Nic has been sick a little bit this week, so it was good to see him get in the top 20,” Christianson said. “Marquis is going to be better at the longer distances and challenging courses like Grinnell, so he’s going to be a big part of this program. My goal was to get one in the top 20, so to get two is a good thing for us.”

Senior Nathan Meiners pulled in 61st (30:12) for the Warriors. Meiners, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national qualifier last season, is aiming to turn it on in the coming meets.

“Give him a couple of races and he’s going to do some great things for us,” Christianson said.

Waldorf freshman Andrew Murley took 62nd (30:13.3) in his 8K debut.

“Andrew had an exceptional race as a freshman,” Christianson said. “It was his first 8K and I thought he handled it pretty well. He’s going to get better every race and it’s going to be exciting to see what he can do around conference time.”

Senior Ovan Garcia raced to 91st (31:09.1) to record the final team score for the Warriors, senior Aaron Ward locked up 104th (31:34.5) and sophomore Mark Ahlers secured 129th (32:05.6) to round out Waldorf’s top seven positions.

Junior Chasen Selsor ran to 151st (32:22.4) for the Warriors, sophomore Jesse Vega crossed the finish line in 175th (33:01.6), senior Cassidy Warson came in 183rd (33:31.2), sophomore Jimmy Blankenship placed 199th (35:06) and senior Adam Brinkman finished 210th (35:54.5).

“Top to bottom, we had a few guys have a tough race, but we’re going to continue to develop,” Christianson said. “To get seventh with tired legs and that competition is pretty respectable.”

Wartburg captured the team title with 53 points. Augustana, which is receiving votes in the latest NCAA Division III poll, took second with 78 points, No. 25 Central finished third (96), ahead of Grinnell (141), National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) member North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) (143), Dordt College (179), Waldorf (211), Cornell (228), Principia (275), Monmouth (291), Dubuque (293), Carleton (302), NJCAA’s Indian Hills Community College (323), Clarke University (358), Grand View University (451), NJCAA’s Scott Community College (483) and Knox (492). Dordt is receiving votes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) preseason poll.

NIACC’s Wal Khat won the meet with a time of 26:55.5. Central’s Isaac Steffensmeier came in second, turning in a time of 26:58.4.

The Warriors have a two-week break and plan to utilize the opportunity for recovery and training.

“We’ll be able to start slowly and introduce some speed next week,” Christianson said. “We’re going to get a 400-meter workout in next week, so I think some of the kids are excited about that. I think next week is going to be a good training week for us to get better and rest injuries.”

Waldorf competes in the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 24 at Falcon Heights, Minn., starting at 9:45 a.m.  The meet is expected to have a variety of competition competing.

“There’s 50 to 100 teams ranging between NCAA Division I and NJCAA spread across three races,” Christianson said. “Hopefully, there are some teams from this weekend, so we can make a good comparison to this week.”

The Roy Griak Invitational marks the first time Waldorf competes against Dickinson State University this season. Dickinson State was picked second in the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) preseason coaches’ poll behind Waldorf. The Warriors will use the upcoming meet as an opportunity size up the Blue Hawks before the NSAA Championships on Nov. 5.

“I know Dickinson State will be there,” Christianson said. “It will be a nice test to see how we match up with them and what we need to do within the next month.”