Both the Gustavus Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams competed at the NCAA Central Region Meet on Saturday, Nov. 14 down at Central College in Pella, Iowa. Neither team had individuals qualify for the National Tournament but the race was still a strong finish to both of their seasons.
The men’s team placed 6th out of 29 teams. In total, the team amassed 227 points at the meet.
“Our men put it together when it mattered most,” HeadCoach of both the men’s and women’s team Dale Bahr said.
“While we didn’t have any outstanding performances, our guys each ran solidly and did so as a team. We beat a lot of those teams that were ahead of us at conference, which was one of our main goals coming into today.”
Junior Thomas Knobbe placed 28th with a time of 26.35.5. Senior Paul Nordquist placed 34th with a time of 26.35.7. Both men earned All-Region honors.
“Our men put it together when it mattered most. While we didn’t have any outstanding performances, our guys each ran solidly and did so as a team.”
—Coach Dale Bahr
The Women’s Cross Country team also had a strong competition, with an overall score of 267 to take 11th out of 30.
Senior Marit Sonnesyn was the top finisher for Gustavus coming in 15th place out of 205 runners. Sonnesyn ran the 6k race in 22:57.4.
“My personal goal for the season was to make it to Nationals. That meant I would have to have a great race at regions. I didn’t make nationals, but I’m proud of my performance at regions. I gave it everything I had on Saturday and had a really good race, it just happened to be a difficult year to qualify as an individual on the women’s side. There weren’t a lot of strong teams, but there were a lot of strong individuals and they only take 7,” Sonnesyn said.
Fellow Senior Lauren Shurson finished the race at 23:39 which resulted in a 41st place finish.
“Personally, I did not have my best race at regions, but I was extremely happy with the team’s performance and we placed well. Everyone left all they had on the course, which is all you can do,” Shurson said.
“I was extremely happy with the team’s performance and we placed well. Everyone left all they had on the course, which is all you can do.”
The women’s team was young this year and having strong senior leaders, such as Shurson and Sonnesyn, helped the mew runners develop their abilities.
“Our seniors have certainly led by example with their work ethic and shown the younger ladies the importance of working hard,” Bahr said.
Neither Shurson or Sonnesyn are done competing for Gustavus quite yet, although their time as cross country runners for the college are complete.
“I’ll remember my time at Gustavus as one that opened new doors for me. As a high school runner, making NCAAs would never have been on my radar. It would have seemed like a completely unattainable goal. Through my time on the Gustavus Cross-Country Team, though, I had a lot of inspiring mentors who believed in me,” Sonnesyn said. “I am cross-country ski racing with the Gustavus club this winter and have a lot of high goals in skiing too. I will also be running outdoor track in the spring and I’ll be giving it another shot for Nationals. Running and racing won’t end after Gustavus for me.”
Shurson also feels impacted by her time as a runner for Gustavus.
“I will remember it dearly. My time at Gustavus has shaped who I am as a person and I wouldn’t be the athlete or scholar that I am today without the friendship and experiences I have gained through Gustavus,” Shurson said. “Indoor and Outdoor Track is next for me… I’ve been thinking about racing more half marathons and attempting my first marathon sometime after track is over. I have loved running and racing for a long time and that will not change after my collegiate career is over.”
While the graduating seniors will be missed, Coach Bahr and the returning members of the team are already looking forward to next season.
“I’m very excited for our future,” Bahr said. “We have an experienced squad now, and just need to continue being smart, training hard and helping our new runners figure out the Gustie way. We have an opportunity to continue building on what we did this year, and I’m already excited to see us achieve that.”