The Warrior men ran one of their best races of the season to finish in a tie for third in the field of ranked opponents. Wessels led the pack in seventh with a personal-best time of 24:56.3, besting his previous personal-best by almost a minute.
“On the men’s side it was a definite dog fight. I thought the men really stepped up today as a team, and as with all teams we are made up of individuals so we had some individuals that really stood out today to do what they had to do to help the team succeed,” Collins explained. “The biggest of these was definitely Kobe with an outstanding day today. He ran a PR three weeks ago in our home meet by about 40 seconds, and then took a whole minute off today to lead the team for the first time in his career.”
Carter Gordon was just off all-conference honors with a 17th-place mark (25:21.8) and Brycen Brown was 19th overall (25:24.2). Rounding out the top five for LC State were Brycen Kempton in 30th (25:58.0) and Griffen Parsells in 31st (26:01.9).
Conner May placed 33rd (26:09.6) and Clay Shumaker finished 35th (26:12.9). Cooper Carlson rounded out the top 40 with a time of 26:18.0, Connor Alexander placed 45th (26:32.0) and freshman Keith Uitdewilligen was 51st overall with a time of 26:59.4.
No. 6 Eastern Oregon took the men’s title in an upset over No. 3 College of Idaho who finished second. LC State tied with No. 14 Corban for third.
“I could not be happier because the team definitely needed that and we saw some other guys really step up as well,” Collins said. “ We kept our gaps down and it was nice to know that even with the same score as Corban we actually beat them because of the tiebreaker system that we use which matches our first runner to their first runner, second to second, down through five, and it just shows our team depth when the fact that our third runner was better than their third, fourth, and fifth, so we broke that tie. It really speaks a lot for this team that it’s not just your top runners, it’s the entire team that shows your success.”
The 2023 NAIA Cross Country National Championships are slated for Nov. 17 in Vancouver, Wash., with both Warrior teams in contention to be in the field. Final rankings will be announced on Nov. 7 with announcement of qualifying teams shortly after.
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