LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Flashing promise for the future, Central College had some near-peak performances at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships Saturday.
After establishing a new career-best time just a week ago in the NCAA Midwest Regional at Rock Island, Illinois, Caleb Silver (junior, Conrad, BCLUW HS) ran a second faster, finishing the 8,000-meter E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park course in 24:44.0 to take 89th in an elite field of 294. Will DeHaan (senior, DeWitt, Central DeWitt HS) was 279th in 26:30.4.
For the Dutch women, Caroline McMartin (sophomore, Pella) also made her national meet debut and finished the 6,000-meter race in 23:34.4, seven seconds off her personal best to place 118th in a field of 293.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them, getting to the point where they were able to compete on this stage and I think we got some valuable experience running at this level,” Dunham said.
A national meet is a far different race than any of the three had competed in previously, Dunham said.
“It’s a another whole level, it really is,” he said. “It’s not that you have to do anything outlandishly great, but you have to be better than you’ve ever been, If you can do that, then you’ve got a shot to do something special.”
Dunham said McMartin showed she’s close.
“She’s just been running so consistently all season,” Dunham said. “It was great to see her finish on a high note from a time standpoint. I think it’s going to make her hungry for the future and continuing to improve. I’m just really glad she was able to experience this.”
Silver’s ceiling continues to rise.
“He got out and just put himself in position and had to battle the best that he could,” Dunham said. “He did really well against our conference foes and had a great performance. Similar to Caroline, I’m glad he could have this experience and hopefully we’ll be back next year.”
DeHaan’s place finish wasn’t what he’d hoped but Dunham liked the effort.
“Will got our real well but it just wasn’t his day,” he said. “He didn’t run bad, it looks worse than it is. Will did amazing things for our team. Just to qualify for this field is a huge accomplishment.”
And while it was DeHaan’s final Central cross country race, his Dutch running career isn’t over.
“I think this is really going to light a fire under him for track,” Dunham said. “He always has a goal to qualify for the national meet in track. He’s been so close. That will be our focus now and I think this experience is going to help him with that.”