Northwest cross country showed growth in the MIAA Championship meet Nov. 3 despite bottom-half finishes for both the men's and women’s teams.
For the second straight meet, the Bearcats traveled to Emporia, Kansas, but this time with more at stake in the conference meet. While each side had a standout performance, the entire team totaled 11 personal records out of 17 total runners.
The men’s team finished in 10th place overall with 215 points and an average time of 27:21 in the 8,000-meter race. Junior Karim Achengli led the way with his second place finish out of 95 runners clocking a time of 25:22.8.
Achengli was the lone upperclassman for the men and four of the eight male runners were freshmen. One of these freshmen was Jacob Norris who finished as the No. 3 runner for Northwest at 63rd overall. Coach Nick Gibson said Norris handled the meet well for the small amount of experience he has had in college.
“Jake was our third guy this weekend, and he has only been running for a few months,” Gibson said. “As a true freshman, it is big for him to step into that role off of not a big training block like a lot of the other guys got.”
The youth and inexperience for the Bearcats may have been a factor in the tentative running style many of the men ran with. Gibson emphasized that the style they ran with was a big factor in the low finish for the team.
“We got into the race, we got out well and we set ourselves up in a good position, but we just weren’t aggressive after that point,” Gibson said. “We were pretty complacent with where we were and that led to us not moving up quite as much throughout the race that I had hoped.”
While 10th place finish is lower than the Bearcats thought going into the meet, they were 11 points away from moving up two positions. The closeness of the teams’ scores transferred over to the women’s side of the competition, as the fourth through the seventh place was separated by 25 points.
The women captured seventh place with 167 points and an average 6,000-meter race time of 23:42. Leading the top five runners for Northwest was senior Maria Mostek who set a personal record by more than a full minute.
Mostek was not the only runner to set a big personal best, as four of the female runners broke theirs by more than two minutes. The string of personal records showed a positive sign for Mostek and the rest of the female runners preparing for the regional meet.
“Everyone ran really well. Our fifth runner usually stays up by me, so if she just had a good day, we could have done better,” Mostek said. “Still, everyone ran as hard as they could and I’m happy with the way it panned out, but we need everybody to be on their A-game at regionals.”
With a time of 22:59.8, Mostek finished 15th out of 111 runners and led the women’s team. Three out of the top five finishers were seniors for the Bearcats, with the other two runners being freshmen. The balance of upper and underclassmen has helped the women run closely together all season long.
That trend continued in the MIAA meet as the Bearcat posted the fourth closest spread at the meet between the top five runners with 1:08.
With conference over, Northwest turns its attention to the NCAA Division II Central Regional meet Nov. 17.