Caroline McMartin

Sophomore Caroline McMartin gained all-conference honors for second time

DECORAH — Sophomores Caroline McMartin (Pella) and Megan Johnson (Parkersburg, Aplington-Parkersburg HS) raced to All-American Rivers Conference honors and the Central College women’s cross country team vaulted to third in the league standings.

The Dutch were seventh a year ago but placed five runners in the top 30 to finish with 77 points. No. 4-ranked Wartburg College dominated with 20 points while No. 35 Loras College had 62. Simpson College was fourth behind Central with 121 and Nebraska Wesleyan University was fifth with 148 in the nine-team meet.

“That was a huge jump,” coach Joe Dunham said. “I thought they ran pretty well. I felt like they were really well prepared. They got out in good position early and were able to maintain it.”

McMartin received all-conference distinction for the second time. After placing 15th a year ago, she climbed to eighth in 23:11.8 on the 6,000-meter Luther College course.

“Unfortunately, she was kind of in the middle of nowhere most of the race, running by herself,” Dunham said. “She didn’t really have anybody to pull her along. It was a really mentally tough race that she was able to put together today and a huge confidence booster going into the regional meet in two weeks.”

Johnson was 13th in 23:38.6.

“She had a bit of an injury she had to fight through,” Dunham said. “I know it was a really hard mental race for her. But she had a great second half and worked up through the field. I was proud of her mental toughness.”

The top 15 runners are named all-conference. Freshman Addison Parrott (Danville) narrowly missed the cut in 16th (23:49.6) with Mari Vroom (senior, Okoboji) 25th (24:14.0), Lindsey Davidson (sophomore, Northwood, Northwood-Kensett HS) 29th (24:21.6), Emma Murphy (Greeley, Colo., Frontier Academy) 35th (24:42.0) and Kate Hoogensen (sophomore, Ankeny, Centennial HS) 42nd (24:55.7).

“It’s just a great feeling to see our team improve so much from last year and with a lot of really young runners,” Dunham said. “I think we’re hungry and excited for two weeks from now at the regional.”

Central competes at the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional Championships Nov. 13 at Rock Island, Illinois. The women’s race starts at noon at Saukie Golf Course. The regional meet determines qualifiers for the NCAA Division III Championships Nov. 20 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Dutch previewed the course at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational Oct. 1, taking third in a 21-team field.

“They had a great performance there last time,” Dunham said. “I think they’re confident on it and know what to expect with it. So I think they’ll be excited to get another chance to race there and see what they can do.”

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