Paced by top-notch performances from Ben Orvold and Hope Christie, Parkside cross country exceeded expectations in its opportunity to host the Great Lakes Valley Conference meet.
University of Wisconsin-Parkside men’s and women’s runners competed at the Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course on a brisk Saturday morning in Kenosha, WI. With excellent course conditions, Parkside capitalized with personal records from several members of both teams.
“It was a pleasure to have the conference championship hosted by a place of such long history and tradition,” said GLVC Commissioner Jim Naumovich. “Our student athletes were offered a memorable experience.”
Parkside’s men finished a solid fourth out of an 11-team-field. Their 102 points trailed the conference winner Southern Indiana (36), Drury (57), and Bellarmine (91).
Orvold’s stellar performance in the 8k race earned him fourth out of 149 competitors with a time of 24:56.
The senior slightly led the pack mid-way through the race, but Drury’s Jamie Villa Zapatero (24:41) finished with the victory, followed by Southern Indiana’s Dustin Emerick (24:50) and Brendan Devine (24:54).
“There were five guys in contention the whole way…I ended up getting a PR [personal record] on the course,” said Orvold. “Every year I’ve improved in the conference standings, and now I can look forward to regionals.”
Junior Alex Mena finished 15th with a time of 25:38. Mena, the second finisher for Parkside, is the gem of the program’s talented youth poised for success next season.
The Rangers also included contributors Rehan Mahmood placing 23rd, 25:57; Josh Mulloy, 29th, 26:05; and Evan Lewandowski, 31st 26:07. Not figuring in the scoring were Dustin Baldwin, 40th, 26:31; and Alec Holguin, 44th, 26:39. Other seniors who stepped on their home course for the final meet were Bryan McLoone and LaQuan Fenderson.
“The only teams that beat us were ranked in the nation coming in,” said Mena. Baldwin, a senior, went on to add, “We pounded through the last couple weeks of practice, and it paid off big.”
As a result of finishing in the top 15, Orvold and Mena earned All-Conference honors.
UW-Parkside’s women’s cross country team boasted third place (94) out of 12 teams. Bellarmine (52) took the top slot, while Southern Indiana (54) settled for second.
Both teams placed better than their expectations claimed coming in to the race Saturday.
“This is a group that loves being around each other,” said Micah Van Denend, Parkside’s first-year head coach. “They are ferocious competitors, and they’ve provided me with a smooth transition.”
Christie was superb posting a time of 22:11, good for third for the 6k course.
“The goal is always to win, but I can’t be disappointed with third,” said a complacent Christie, who maintained third for the majority of the race. “I admit, nationals is at the forefront of my mind.”
Demolishing the rest of the field, Lewis’ Kathryn Hague topped Jackie Henderson of Southern Indiana by 39 seconds with a blazing time of 21:28.
Heidi Ertl complemented Christie’s efforts with a sixth-place finish out of 120 runners in 22:30. Both runners achieved All-Conference honors.
Additional Parkside runners included Whitney Olson 26th, 23:33; Brittany Frederick, 27th, 23:35; and Jessica Enderby, 32nd, 23:43. Not figuring in the scoring were Taylor Miller, 36th, 23:53; and Jessica Watychowicz, 39th, 23:56.
Van Denend, a University of Iowa graduate, enters his tenure at Parkside after breaking numerous records at the prestigious Iowa. This is Van Denend’s first stint as a head coach, but served as an assistant coach at UW-Madison for the last two years.
“Coach VanDenend has done a phenomenal job taking over this year,” said Tamie Falk-Day, Parkside’s Athletic Director. “The program is confident that Micah will continue a great tradition.”
Regionals are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 20, where Parkside’s qualifiers will make their way out to Louisville, KY.
According to Van Denend, “Next week we have to take it up a notch and get prepared for regionals.”