Men's XC places 27th at Nationals
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It was a balmy 35 degrees with a steady wind chill in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as the men’s cross country team toed the line for the NAIA National Championship this past Friday. The Nationals squad comprised of Michael Oldach (junior), Blake Fonda (senior), David Peterson (senior), Jason Peterson (freshman), Patrick Malberg (junior), Thaddeus Kowalick (sophomore), and John Kiser (freshman). These seven left from LAX last Monday night to travel to Cedar Rapids, where the competition boasted 330 competitors from 36 schools.
Overall, the men placed 27th, and although they were aiming to be a top-ten team, there were some impressive finishes and big efforts from the Warriors to be proud of. Oldach, who was unable to finish the championship race last year, tucked into the leaders’ pack early and ended up with an eighth place finish out of 330 competitors to earn All-American honors. Fonda, similarly, ran a phenomenally tactical race and finished in 40th - just outside of the All-American berth (top 30). Despite that disappointment, Fonda can take pride that he has been an integral part of the Cross Country team’s success at the National Championships for the past four seasons. The Peterson Brothers, David and Jason, finished in 243rd and 259th for the field, and 3rd and 4th for Westmont, respectively. Rounding out the scoring five was Malberg, finishing in 266th. Kiser finished in 295th with Kowalik right on his tail in 297th.
The team faced a unique set of challenges that was different than anything they’ve run in before. The almost freezing temperatures, wind, flat and grassy course, and sheer immensity of the competition made for a tough race indeed. The Warriors performed admirably in a tough situation.
This race signaled the end of the cross country season. Both men’s and women’s cross country will have a week or two off before resetting their training and preparing for track in the spring. First gun sounds at 11 a.m. on January 26th for the opening of that season.