Jimmy Bryant was nervous going into the conference meet. The cross country runner didn’t want a 30-year winning streak to be broken during his senior year.
That worry was put to rest with the victory at Lake Afton Nov. 7 when the men’s cross country team won its 30th consecutive conference title. “It’s pretty incredible for a streak to last that long in any sport,” said Jim Helmer, head cross country coach. “It’s not any different than the first one, just another milestone. The ultimate goal is to put yourself in a position to win championships.”
It ranks today as the most consecutive conference championships won in the nation.
Nine teams competed at the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference championships. Conference rival Kansas Wesleyan University had beaten the Builders the previous two times they met this season, putting the streak in jeopardy. Southwestern responded by finishing two runners in the top two spots and having two more place in the top ten. “It didn’t surprise me because I knew they were ready to do it,” said Helmer. “They got out there and got after it, and we controlled the race from the first mile to the finish line.”
Andrew Topham, biology junior, and Frank Adelman, biology freshman, finished first and second respectively. Topham had a time of 25:07.00, while Adelman ran a time of 25:25.00. Carrington Crum, elementary education sophomore, followed with a time of 26:01.00, which earned him fifth place. Conner Drendel, elementary education sophomore, also had a good race, finishing 10th with a time of 26:19:00. The Builders ended the meet with a total time of 2:09.16. Bryant finished in 12th place, Clint Kessler, undecided freshman, was in 15th place, and Zack Conroy, business senior, was the final scoring runner for the men in 19th place.
The women took third overall. “I think we all competed really well,” said Jennifer Hendrixson, nursing sophomore. “We stepped up and put our hearts into it and I am proud of how everybody ran.”
Amy Pierson, nursing junior, continued her successful season by placing first out of 60 runners with a time of 18:26.00. “Pierson had a great race and will have a chance to shoot for an All-American,” said Helmer. Sydnee Nelson, biology freshman, came in 19th with a time of 20:05.00, followed closely by Hendrixson who had a time of 20:13.00, earning her 20th. Much of the team was not far behind as Larrissa Vasquez, business junior, finished 25th, followed by Jordan Unruh, nursing junior, who took 27th. Mychala Money, junior, and Erica Dunigan, communications sophomore, rounded up the team as they placed 31st and 32nd respectively.
Around 30 to 40 alumni came out to watch and cheer on the cross country team as they wrapped up their season. The NAIA Nationals meet will be held in Vancouver, Wash. on Nov. 21. Last year, the Builders finished 22nd overall. Pierson is the only individual competitor representing Southwestern from the women’s team. The men will be represented by Topham, Adelman, Crum, Drendel, Bryant and Kessler.
Clint Dick is a freshman majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.