INDIANOLA — Moving up a notch from a year ago, the Central College men’s cross country team was fourth at the American Rivers Championships Saturday, matching the program’s best league finish since 2015.
Noah Jorgenson (junior, Sidney). who was 40th in last year’s conference meet after placing 18th in 2020, surged to 10th in 25:26.40 on the 8,000-meter course to gain all-conference distinction. It’s Central’s highest individual finish since 2019.
Wartburg College, ranked No. 5 in the NCAA Division III, repeated as champion with 26 points while No. 26 Loras College was second with 50 and Central had 99. Host Simpson College was fifth with 126 and Buena Vista University had 196, followed by Coe College, the University of Dubuque and Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Central was running without two of its usual top seven runners, Kenny Cronin (sophomore, Des Moines, Davis County HS) and Randy Jimenez (sophomore, Liberty Center, Southeast Warren HS).
“We knew it was going to be tough without them,” coach Joe Dunham said. “We knew we had to be right on our game.”
Caleb Silver (senior, Conrad, BCLUW HS), 13th last year, was 22nd (25:59.2), Adam Sylvia (senior, Rochester, Mass., Old Rochester HS), 76th last year, improved to 24th (26:05.9), Cutler Owens (5th-year, Runnells, Southeast Polk HS), 80th last year, climbed to 26th (26:16.0), Derek Webster (sophomore, Norwalk), 116th last year, was 28th (26:13.7), Jacob Sanders (senior, Nevada), 112th last year, was 63rd (27:35.7) and Ben DeValk (sophomore, Solon), 146th last year, was 64th (27:38.5).
“We’re a little disappointed,” Dunham said. “We felt like we could run a little bit better today. But I was proud of them, facing that adversity of knowing that two of their top seven were not going to be racing. They still fought hard.”
Dunham was especially impressed with Webster’s progress.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Derek,” Dunham said. “Derek Webster was MVP for me. He ran incredibly well today. I thought everybody had a great effort. It just didn’t go as well as we were hoping.”
The Dutch have two weeks to prepare for the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional at the Northwestern Medicine Cross Country Course in Geneva, Illinois Nov. 12. Central previewed the course at the Oct. 1 Aurora University (Ill.) Invitational, taking first in a 15-team field. Central was sixth in the 30-team regional meet last year. The top team in each of 10 regions is selected to advance to the NCAA Division III Championships Nov. 19 at Lansing, Michigan. An additional 22 teams are selected at-large. The top seven individual finishers in the region who are not part of a qualifying team also advance.
“We’ve got two weeks to get ready for the regional championships and trying to get back into our form,” Dunham said. “I think we’ll be hungry and ready to go.”
Silver was one of two Central qualifiers for last year’s national meet after placing 12th at the regional. He was 89th at the national meet in Louisville, Kentucky.