Going the extra mile: Cross-country teams eye postseason success


Members of the cross-country teams are headed to Minnesota to compete in the Central Region Championships on Saturday, hoping to put an exclamation point on their big achievements so far this season. (Photo: Jayde Vogeler/The Simpsonian)

by Tanner Krueger, Sports Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — With a changing culture on the Simpson College cross-country team, members are looking for big achievements this postseason.

All-conference performers Sadie Timms and Ian McKenzie, both seniors, and Jonathan Facio, a sophomore, led the charge for the Storm in the IIAC championships late last month.

Weather conditions were not ideal with high winds and chilly temperatures at the IIAC conference championship meet, hosted by Wartburg in Waverly, but the Storm faced the challenge head-on and ran some of their best times of the season.

“I think that it was a really good meet. I think the top I have ever gotten is fifth at conference,” McKenzie said.

In the past, the men’s cross-country team focused on personal records going into meets. In this year’s meet, they looked to score well as a team and move to the regional rounds.

The 2017 men’s team has advanced to the regional meet, which is held in Northfield, Minnesota on Saturday.

“We won some votes from the committee by the way we scored at conference and now we are ready to go to regionals,” junior Trey Thompson said.

McKenzie led the Storm in the IIAC meet, placing 13th out of 168 runners. This is the first time he has received all-conference honors in his career at Simpson.

After finishing in 88th place in the same race last season, Facio’s improvements have been noticed, finishing in 15th place this year.

“The investment they have made since early June was rewarded today,” head coach Heath Moenck said. “What Jonathan did today was absolutely spectacular.”

“Our team goal from day one is to be top 10 at regionals. We haven’t been top 10 in a long time,” Thompson said.

The team attributes much of their success to running more mileage and working a lot harder than past years. The morning practices, two-a-day workouts and an overall attitude change is something the men have focused on.

“I am in a spot where I can improve my time, and I think I can have gotten faster every 8K I have run this year,” McKenzie said.

Timms and the women’s team competed just hours after the men’s team. Timms led the way with an 11th-place finish at 23:12.3, the fastest time of her career. The next best finish on the team was senior Courtney Neuendorf, who placed 26th, with a time of 24:06.8.

“Our women battled today, and they were right in the mix for one of our better showings in recent years,” Moenck said. “I’m proud of how well they have competed all year, and this was no different.”

The last Simpson runner to earn all-conference honors was back in 2010. Timms helped the team end the drought this year and secured a sixth-place finish in the meet at the same time.

“It was great to see Sadie capture her first all-conference award,” Moenck said. “It’s been a goal of hers for many years, and she made it happen today.”

With extra work in the offseason done by the women, they have seen the positive results.

Working well in the classroom and on the trail, they have set a standard for the team. Earning all-academic honors as a team for 10 consecutive years is a feat few can achieve, but they have.

The Storm cross-country teams will compete in the regional championship meet on Saturday in Northfield, Minnesota, with hopes of qualifying for the NCAA national championship meet the following weekend in Elsah, Minnesota.