It was the first time in a long time Ottawa University was the host school. The women finished third with 116 points and sophomore Chelsea Fullerton qualified for the NAIA Cross Country National Championships, Nov. 17, in Fort Vancouver, Wash. after her seventh-place finish.
It will be her second nationals appearance.
“It was one of my better races this year,” Fullerton said. “I was pretty happy with my time. I am super excited. It was an awesome experience last year [at nationals]. It definitely motivated me last year. It inspired me all through the track season.”
The young men’s squad finished eighth in a tough men’s field. Southwestern, ranked 10th in the NAIA, won the meet with 39 points. Saint Mary, who is receiving votes in the poll, tied for second with Friends with 60 points.
“Our conference is a pretty tough conference,” Ottawa junior Ethan Van Zant, who placed 44th, said.
Ottawa veteran coach Kirk Wren said, “We can go to any NCAA Division II course and compete against anybody. That is pretty cool. It is a great meet. It is solid.”
Southwestern men and Friends women will represent the KCAC in the team competition at the national meet.
“This is a tough course,” Fullerton said. “We know all the hills and turns. It was a great chance for the university to be able to host such a big meet. It was wonderful having so many people of the university supporting us. It was wonderful.”
Van Zant said it was a motivating factor to have the KCAC meet at home.
“It definitely was exciting,” the Central Heights graduate said. “You have the course in your head. It was the most fan base from our school at any of our meets since I have gone to OU. It definitely helps when people cheer for you.”
Wren said the course set up well for the championship race.
“The course is a true cross-country course.” he said. “People like that. It is a beautiful setting.”
Fullerton and Van Zant said there were some spots where knowing the course helped.
“There are couple of spots where you make your move,” Fullerton said. “When you are coming up the hill at the end that is where you have to kick it in there.”
Fullerton said she attempted to push the pace a bit on a couple of level and straight areas of the course.
Van Zant said the course did not play to his strengths.
“It is a really difficult course to run,” he said. “I am tall and have a long stride. You can’t use that long stride on this course. You have to chop up hills.”
Wren and the runners feel this was a growing step for both teams.
“We are a young team,” Van Zant said of the men. “We don’t have any seniors.”
Fullerton said most of the women’s team are freshmen and sophomores.
Wren hopes that bodes well for the future with the women having just two seniors.
“Everybody came in from the very beginning super driven and ready to go,” Fullerton said. “Everybody worked so hard. We have an amazing support system.”
Southwestern 39, Saint Mary 60, Friends 60, Tabor 100, Sterling 132, Kansas Wesleyan 152, Bethany 178, Ottawa 197, McPherson 255, Bethel 283.
17, Carlson, 28:06; 44, Van Zant, 29:49; 49, Love, 30:07; 50, McIntyre, 30:10; 54, Ledet, 30:25; 57, Garcia, 30:55; 70, Bland, 34:34.
Friends 59, Southwestern 61, Ottawa 116, Tabor 122, McPherson 127, Kansas Wesleyan 134, Bethel 157, St. Mary 174, Sterling 174, Bethany 226.
7, Fullerton, 20:21; 16, Wilkins, 21:30; 27, Bailey, 22:06; 30, Jones, 22:09; 36, Richardson, 22:49; 44, Hansen, 23:19; 53, Wherrell, 24:05; 54, Slavens, 24:20; 56, Griffith, 24:41; 57, Harrington, 24:44; 68, Boor, 27:18.