WATERTOWN, Wis. -- The 2017 season was a story of perseverance for both the Men's and the Women's Cross Country Teams.
The year yielded ups and downs for both squads. On the men's side, the team finished in 2nd place at NCCAA Nationals in November, and Cameron Rankin set the pace with a time of 28:32 - a PR for the junior and the 5th-best time in Maranatha Men's Cross Country history. With his top-5 finish, Rankin was subsequently named as an NCCAA All-American for the first time in his career.
To get to the 2nd-place podium, the team battled through injury and adverse conditions on race day. From pouring rain to sweltering heat, there seemed to be no such thing as a "normal day" of competition. Despite inclement weather, the team posted 10 season-best times at the Wisconsin Private College Championships on Oct. 14. The team took advantage of running on their home course, as they finished in 5th place - their best finish to date in the state-wide event.
Four different runners ran their season-best time in under 30 minutes. Rankin, (28:32), Jeremiah Doak (28:38), Robert Kile (29:28), and Kurt Wagner (29:57) all broke the half-hour mark this season.
Rankin and Doak were the undisputed top runners for Maranatha this season.
The Women's Team took 5th place at the season finale, as the top 5 runners combined for a mark of 1:59:05 - their best team mark this season. This was a rebuilding year for the Sabercats, who fielded just 7 total runners and 3 returning runners.
Injuries were a part of the story for the Women's squad, who had this challenge in addition to the adverse race-day weather. Because of these difficulties, the team struggled to repeat the normal pattern of improvement throughout the season. Challenges aside, 3 of the runners set a season-best time at NCCAA Nationals.
Sarah Vander Pluym and Madelyn Hansel were the top runners for the Sabercats this season. Both runners clocked in at 21:40 or better at NCCAA Nationals. Vander Pluym's 21:27 mark was her best time this season while Hansel's time of 21:40 was her 5K PR.
Below is a list of each runner's best time from the 2017 season:
|Jeremiah Doak||28:38||Wisconsin Private College Championships|
|Ryan Gick||38:29||Wisconsin Private College Championships|
|Robert Kile||29:28||NCCAA Nationals|
|Josh Kruit||30:46||Wisconsin Private College Championships|
|TJ Lacock||36:06||Wisconsin Private College Championships|
|Jonathan Leslie||34:18||Wisconsin Private College Championships|
|Colton Lingle||32:36||Wisconsin Private College Championships|
|Jacob MacDonald||31:28||Wisconsin Private College Championships|
|Matthew Nutzhorn||32:47||Wisconsin Private College Championships|
|Cameron Rankin||28:32||NCCAA Nationals|
|James Rossiter||33:34||Wisconsin Private College Championships|
|Kurt Wagner||29:57||NCCAA Nationals|
|David Williams||30:47||Wisconsin Private College Championships|
|Madelyn Hansel||21:40||NCCAA Nationals (5K)|
|Anna Heins||28:28||Warrior Invitational|
|Haly Hendricks||35:07||Warrior Invitational|
|Katheryn Marten||34:29||Wisconsin Private College Championships|
|Ruth Tan||42:32||Ken Weidt Classic|
|Sarah Vander Pluym||21:27||NCCAA Nationals (5K)|
|Lauryn Wigdal||25:32||NCCAA Nationals (5K)|
THE SOUND BITE
"Each one of the teams was a pleasure to work and run with," said head coach Isaiah Steinbart. "Coming into the season I knew we had a lot of work to do in order to compete at Nationals this year, but each one of these athletes put in a lot of work, and it showed at the different meets. I would like to thank my assistant coach Nicole Verhalen for all of the hard work that she did in helping me and also Ryan Gick who also assisted me when I was not here. I would also like to thank the fans that came and supported us at our meets."
- NCCAA National Finish (M): 2nd
- Best Team Time (M): 2:29:02 - Wisconsin Private College Championships
- Best Individual Time (M): Cameron Rankin - 28:32 - NCCAA Nationals
- NCCAA National Finish (W): 5th
- Best Team Time (W): 1:59:05 - NCCAA Nationals (5K)
- Best Individual Time (W): Sarah Vander Pluym - 21:27 - NCCAA Nationals (5K)
- NCCAA All-America Selections:
- Cameron Rankin
- NCCAA Scholar-Athletes:
- Madelyn Hansel, Josh Kruit, Colton Lingle, Matthew Nutzhorn, Cameron Rankin, James Rossiter, Ruth Tan, Sarah Vander Pluym