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Waldorf’s Kuik, Widener race to school-record performances

Waldorf Warriors LogoBy Waldorf Sports Information Director

BETTENDORF – Marissa Kuik and Marissa Widener put together school-record performances while leading the Waldorf University women’s cross country team in Saturday’s Fighting Bee Invitational.

Kuik chased down 24th place as the freshman from Coon Rapids, Minnesota, clocked a time of 20 minutes, 57 seconds on the 5K course at Crow Creek Park. She established a new school-record time in a 5K race, surpassing the previous mark of 21:14.93 set by Dana Miller during the 2012 Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC) Championships.

Widner, a freshman from Bridgeport, Nebraska, charged to 37th (21:39) to deliver the third-fastest 5K time in Waldorf history.

“Marissa [Widener] ran really well for us,” Waldorf coach Nathan Christianson said. “It was a good step in the right direction and in two weeks, I think we’re going to see some more from her.”

The meet marked the first competition for the Warriors since the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 24. Gauging how they’ve progressed, they took aim at a familiar opponent in Grand View University and defeated runners they previously finished behind.

“We’re excited,” Christianson said. “It was hard to find comparisons from other meets. Grand View was in the Roy Griak Invitational, so we tried to make some comparisons.”

Widener made strides in her performance, improving her personal-record time. Working with Kuik, the duo is expected to help Waldorf make its presence known in next month’s North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Championships.

“She had a monster PR,” Christianson said. “I’m really proud of her. If she can continue to improve, we’ve got a good 1-2 punch at the conference championship. I think those two could do some good things.”

Sophomore Patricia Molina raced to 86th (23:48) for the Warriors. Molina, who’s a heptathlete for Waldorf’s track and field team, showed promise while making her cross country debut.

“There are a lot of people who have been running for a bunch of years that can run that fast,” Christianson said. “She had two good miles and just has to get that third mile the next two races.”

Junior Charley Buddenhagen was the final runner for the Warriors and crossed the finish line in 111th (27:08).

St. Ambrose University locked up the team championship with 43 points, holding off Davenport University (50) by seven points. Mount Mercy University (64), which is receiving votes in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) poll, took third. Concordia University Ann Arbor (103) claimed fourth to place ahead of No. 20 Olivet Nazarene University (192), Illinois Central College (202), Calumet College of St. Joseph (205), Grand View (215), Des Moines Area Community College (248), NCAA Division II’s Upper Iowa University (256), William Penn University (281), Sauk Valley Community College (284) and Indiana University Northwest (355).

Concordia Ann Arbor’s Stephanie Johnston ran away with the individual title, racing to a time of 18:07. Davenport’s Morgan Posthuma secured second (19:41).

The Fighting Bee Invitational was Waldorf’s first 5K race of the season.

“I think we’re still adjusting with it only be our first 5K,” Christianson said. “It takes a race or two to adjust to that distance and knowing how to race it.”

The Warriors return to action Oct. 22 in the NAIA Seminole Valley Stampede at Cedar Rapids, starting at 11:30 a.m. With two 5K races remaining on the season schedule, Waldorf is aiming to use the upcoming meet to prepare for the NSAA Championships.

“We’re excited with our first 5K out of the way,” Christianson said. “In two weeks, it’s going to be a faster course and I think we’ll continue to improve.”

Fielding four runners on Saturday, the Warriors need just one more runner to record a team score. Adding more runners to the mix, they’ll do just that when they battle in the NSAA Championships on Nov. 5 at Dickinson, N.D.

“We’ve got some plans in the next couple weeks to add one or two more girls, so we’ve got that team score at conference,” Christianson said. “We’re definitely happy with where we’re at.”