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Breaking New Ground

Breaking New Ground

WATERTOWN, Wis. -- The Maranatha Cross Country Teams broke new ground in more ways than one during the 2020 season. NCCAA records. Team performances. Personal records. All-American finishes. Stories of resilience and grit. All of these were key parts of the 2020 season, as a couple of determined squads broke new ground for the program, setting the bar high not only for this season but also for the seasons ahead.

The teams had to wait until October to feel like they had a normal season, as cancellations took a toll on the schedule. But the teams persisted in their training, and after Jeremy Fopma broke his own program record for fastest 8K at the Bethel Invitational, the squads started to gain momentum.

They rode that momentum to a jaw-dropping display at the Jayhawk Invitational in Muskegon, Michigan the very next week. Every single runner in Maranatha colors set a PR that day, as both teams had a day they'll never forget. Fopma flew to a 25:04 8K to blow away his PR and the standing program record, and seven runners broke into or increased their standing in the program Top 20 listings. 

The persistence was paying off.

At the season finale of NCCAA Nationals, the Women's Team turned out in full force, almost catching a national runner-up placement after every single runner PR'd again. The squad would only lose out on tiebreakers, but a full-squad-PR performance will never be taken away from them. On the men's side, the team battled injuries en route to a third-place finish. 

But the stories that made the headlines at Nationals came on an individual level, as two runners made history.

Abigail Doak became the first runner in Maranatha Women's Cross Country program history to win the national meet, cruising to a 19:36 5K - the second-fastest time in program history. And Jeremy Fopma became the first runner on record to win the overall men's race at NCCAA Nationals, beating the field by almost a full minute. In the historic win, Fopma defended his national title, secured his All-American status, and gave the team something to celebrate in the final meet of the season.


Each runner made significant strides in the season. A list of all PRs and awards is below:

Personal Record (Women)              Time (5K)     Date   Event
Abigail Doak 19:36 11/14 NCCAA Nationals    
Sierra John 21:23 11/14 NCCAA Nationals      
Katie Jean Lingle 22:23 11/14 NCCAA Nationals      
Rebekah Shetter 24:36 11/14 NCCAA Nationals      
Hannah Hecker 24:53 11/14 NCCAA Nationals      
Katelyn Smith 26:14 11/14 NCCAA Nationals      
Haly Hendricks 26:46 11/14 NCCAA Nationals      
Myah Hoffmann 27:26 11/14 NCCAA Nationals
Personal Record (Men) Time (8K) Date Event
Jeremy Fopma 25:04 10/17 Jayhawk Invitational
Josiah Cochran 28:30 10/17 Jayhawk Invitational  
Jordan Hoffmann 28:48 11/14 NCCAA Nationals
Jefferson Rupert 28:50 10/24 Mustang Jamboree  
Zach Brungard 29:53 10/17 Jayhawk Invitational  
Drew Smith 30:41 10/24 Mustang Jamboree
Jonathan Gilliam 31:53 10/17 Jayhawk Invitational
Jeremy Zobel 32:24 10/17 Jayhawk Invitational  
Jeremiah Markle 40:41 10/17 Jayhawk Invitational  



In a semester's-end athletic awards assembly, the following awards were highlighted, as the team recognized both national award winners and team awards:

Team Awards Recipient
Most Improved (Men) Zach Brungard
Most Valuable (Men) Jeremy Fopma
Team Player (Men) Drew Smith, Jordan Hoffmann 
Newcomer of the Year (Men) Josiah Cochran
Most Improved (Women) Myah Hoffmann
Most Valuable (Women) Abigail Doak
Team Player (Women)  Sierra John
Newcomer of the Year (Women) Rebekah Shetter
NCCAA Nationals Overall/DII Winner (Men)    
Jeremy Fopma  
NCCAA DII Nationals Winner (Women)  
Abigail Doak  
NCCAA Scholar-Athletes (JR, SR, GS only)  
Zach Brungard Katie Jean Lingle  
Abigail Doak Jefferson Rupert   
Haly Hendricks Drew Smith
Jordan Hoffmann Jeremy Zobel
Sierra John  


For more on the program, visit their team page HERE (Men) and HERE (Women).