The Tabor cross country men earned a seventh-place finish at the very competitive Fort Hays State Tiger Open Saturday, as well as two top-10 finishes by sophomore Joel Allen for the men and junior Brielle Lund on the women’s side.
Eight Bluejays lowered their personal record times by several seconds.
“This was a really good meet for us,” said coach Dan Swaney. “The course was predominately flat with a few sections with some small hills so we thought it might turn out some fast times.
“There was some good competition there too, so that certainly helped.”
Leading out the men’s team was Allen, who finished ninth with a personal record time of 25 minutes, eight seconds, for his third consecutive top-10 finish.
Following him were Jacob Heil (19th, 25:23PR), Garrett Daugherty (37th, 26:12PR), Paul Williams (88th, 28:02PR), Bret Mueller (92nd, 28:29PR) and Jon Gutierrez (120th, 33:38PR).
“I was surprised how fast the guys in particular were coming through the mile marks where I was taking splits and just hoped that they could keep the pace up for the rest of the race,” Swaney said.
“It was also very exciting to be able to tell several of the guys right at the end of the race how close they were to having a significant improvement,” he added, “knowing that would spur them on to push the last stretch even harder.”
The Bluejays were missing their No. 4 runner, Nathan Vogel, due to the Tabor homecoming musical.
Swaney said his absence hurt their team performance, but it was encouraging because they still set a school record for team time. Allen and Heil now have the first and second best times in school history, as well as the second and fourth best times, respectively, in the KCAC this season.
Lund paced the women’s team, finishing ninth in a personal record time of 18:51 for KCAC Runner of the Week honors for the third consecutive week and a fourth top-10 finish.
Also competing were Ashley Kemling (43rd, 20:29PR), Makenzie King (46th, 20:47) and Hannah Holmes (71st, 21:46).
“One of the most exciting parts of the day for me was when Ashley came charging up the last hill with about 1000 meters left and she surged past several women and continued to move up until she finished,” Swaney said.
He also said the injuries that have been plaguing the Bluejays seem to be significantly improved, which “is encouraging as we get to the last part of the season.”
Coming—The Bluejays will take a week off before traveling to the NAIA Mid-States Classic Oct. 20 at Southwestern College.