Judah Newby | Sports Editor
It was a busy weekend for the Thunder men’s and women’s cross-country teams as Wheaton hosted the annual Wheaton Gil Dodds Invitational last Saturday, Sept. 22, at St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville.
Beginning the week ranked seventh in the country by the National Track and Field Coaches Association of America, the Thunder men’s team cemented their spot among the nation’s best by taking top honors in their 8K race. Junior James Waterman finished with the fastest overall time in 25:59 for first place. Wheaton scored a team total of 17 points, placing five runners in the top six spots.
Conference foes Illinois Wesleyan and North Central finished second and third respectively with scores of 58 and 62.
“I was pleased with how we ran, but it was just the beginning of a long process,” Head Coach Scott Bradley said. “There is no question that we have a good team, but we still have a lot of work to do, and we have to stay healthy throughout the season to be a great team.”
Waterman paced the Thunder runners with his top finish, but his teammates were directly behind him. Senior Nate Veldt took second, finishing two seconds behind Waterman at 26:01. Thunder runners went on to take positions four, six and seven with sophomore Brett Haffner at 26:03, senior Parker Thompson at 26:13 and senior Nate Hatton at 26:15. Rounding out the Thunder runners were senior Todd Vankerhoff in 24th at 26:49 and freshman Alex Holle in 28th at 26:52.
“I felt that I ran a great race,” Waterman said. “I had a great summer of training to give me the strength I needed and a great group of teammates to pull me along at perfect and consistent mile paces that allowed for a fast close in the last two miles of the race.”
“James is really a great athlete, and I think that we just saw the tip of the iceberg on Saturday, Coach Bradley said. “I believe that he will take off to a new level this fall, which is saying something for a guy who qualified for the national meet last spring in track.”
Wheaton’s men’s team is ranked third in the Midwest Region and 7th nationally heading into this week. A year removed from taking 15th in the National Finals, the team’s goals remain the same.
“I do not think that our goals are very different from last year,” said Waterman. “We have a fantastic team and a lot of potential to do some great and memorable things. We want to give our best possible effort at conference and do not want to have anything left in the tank when we cross the finish line, because we would love to give North Central a run for their money.”
The Thunder women’s team also saw success at the Invitational, taking fourth place out of the 10 competing teams at St. James Farm Forest Preserve. The top team was Illinois Wesleyan University, who placed six runners in the top 15 finishers, followed by Illinois Institute of Technology in second and Carthage College in third. Wheaton finished fourth ahead of North Central, Elmhurst, UW-Whitewater, College of DuPage, Lake Forest and Moraine Valley.
Junior Emma Gilbertson ran the fastest time for Wheaton in the women’s 5K, finishing in 23:17 to take seventh place overall. Senior Annie Shults was not far behind Gilbertson with her ninth-place time of 23:22. Freshman Jordan Tuin took 13th at 23:38, while junior Emma Krieter finished at 24:45 for 37th, and freshman Sydney Brynn placed 39th at 24:50. Freshman Hannah Barbour crossed at 24:52 for 41th and sophomore Abby Bullmore legged out a time of 24:55 to round out the Thunder scoring in 43rd place.
“I was extremely pleased with our women’s team,” Bradley said. “We had a ton of improvement throughout our lineup, which was very rewarding. We really competed well, and I believe we will continue to improve.”
Wheaton’s men’s team looks to improve in their upcoming competitions, beginning Oct. 5 with the Benedictine University Invitational right back at St. James Farm. The same course will be the site for the CCIW Championships, hosted by the Thunder on Oct. 27.
Photo courtesy of Michael Hudson Photography.
Printed in the September 28, 2012, issue of The Wheaton Record. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.