Men’s Cross Country team place twelfth at NCAA regionals

Last Saturday, the Thunder Men’s Cross Country team competed at the 2017 NCAA Division III Midwest Regional at Rock Island’s Saukie Golf Course. In their final meet of the season, the men placed twelfth on a 36-team field. North Central scored 34 points, taking first at the regional competition. UW-La Crosse won second place with a score of 81 points and WashU finished third with 124 points. Wheaton gained their 12th place victory scoring 369 points, and Carthage, Principia and Aurora finished right behind them.
In total, the men’s race consisted of 254 runners. Sophomore Seth Massot ran the fastest performance for the men’s Thunder, scoring 59th place with a time of 24:58.2. Miles Trujillo finished the 8K course in 25:08.5 to take 67th place and freshman Jonah Jones clocked a time of 25:21.6 in 76th place. Senior Luke Andersen finished right behind Jones with a time of 25:25.6 in 80th and Grant Alexander ran a time of 25:32.4 to take 89th place. Michael Larkin scored 116th place in 25:59.2 and Simon Peterson posted a time of 27:21.3 acquiring 185th place.  
Saturday’s running conditions could not have been better. Coach Walford told us, “For the first time this year we had a perfect day to run fast. It was cold, very hard ground and a fast course so I knew that not only our team, but everyone was going to run fast.” He was most certainly correct as Wheaton’s times were peppered with new personal records and seasonal bests. Wheaton’s top finisher Massot had a great race and commented on how his teammates also excelled on Saturday. “Miles had a huge race, really showcasing his ability. Jonah Jones again came up big as a freshman, and Duke and Grant continued to take big steps and round out our scoring five. This season has been extremely encouraging in seeing how the team has come together, bottom to top. A couple of our guys didn’t have their best races on Saturday, but they battled through and the next guy was there to step up.” When asked how he handled the extra pressure of the regional meet, Massot answered, “The nerves were definitely running a bit higher than normal, mainly from just knowing that this was our last chance to see what we could do, see where our training had progressed to. But in the end you give what you can to God, you go for the best, but are happy with the result and look to God and the needs of the team. That’s how I control my nerves, remembering even though I am heavily invested in running, there are things that are more important.”
Coach Walford expressed his satisfaction with the team. “In the last three meets we showed our consistency as a team by beating Carthage and that is very satisfying. I believe we did this because our team was really motivated to get the most out of themselves on , and each one of our guys raced their guts out, I’m very proud of each of them.”
The men’s season is drawing to an end as last Saturday’s meet was their finale. Both Coach Walford and Massot identified the team as a highlight for the season. “I love our team chemistry; the guys are really close to each other and are gelling well with each other. As a whole team, we have improved pretty much across the board; all the guys have become better runners this year and that is very satisfying to me,” Walford said. Massot added, “The highlight of this season was this team. The desire every guy showed to support and serve one another, to expect the best from themselves and their teammates, that made this season special. We didn’t perform as a group of individual runners, but as a team, and that is what enabled us to perform as well as we did.”

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