Simpson’s cross-country teams place strong in A-R-C Championship


Photo by Corinne Thomas

by Jake Brend, Sports Editor

Simpson men’s cross-country finished third in the American Rivers Conference Championship, their best finish at conference since 1990. The women also improved their finish from last season, in sixth place on Nov. 7.

Spencer Moon, Harry Dudley and Eric Baldus all broke the top-15 and were named All-Conference. Simpson had not previously reached this remark since 1988.

Ryan Courtney, Noah Nelsen and Seth Nostrala rounded out Simpson’s top six, with finishes at 32nd, 34th and 38th, respectively. 

The Storm men finished behind just Wartburg and Loras, but with a score of 86, they improved their 2019 finish by 56 points. Last season, Simpson finished in sixth place, behind Luther, Central and Nebraska Wesleyan. 

However, this year was a different story, and it wasn’t a shock to head coach Heath Moenck. 

“We have a talented roster,” he said. “Getting third wasn’t a surprise within our program. It was a surprise for everyone else.”

The team holds home to nine different seniors that have been in the program for four years, setting different goals every season.

“Over four years, these guys have done things that good runners need to do,” Moenck said. “They don’t miss runs, they listen to their bodies and they do the little things. They are consistent, 365 days a year.”

Senior Ryan Courtney has been in the program since 2017 and has been on teams that have finished both fifth and sixth. In order to make the jump, Courtney along with others had to break through with confidence. 

“We had guys have huge breakthrough races, guys battle through injury, and guys toe the line for their final race, and it was so exciting to be a part of all of those journeys,” Courtney said. “This team is really special and I’m so thankful to be a part of it.”

One student-athlete that broke through early was sophomore Spencer Moon, placing fourth in the ARC with a time of 25:51.25. 

“If you want to have a quality program, you want someone at the top,” Moenck said. “(Spencer’s) a talented guy, but he also works hard. It’s contagious.”

Cat Lucht finished just one place away from All-Conference for the women, coming in at 16th with a time of 24:15.29. Her performance increased her position from last season by 50 spots.

“I’ve never had a season where I’ve ran this well,” Lucht said. “I’ve done all the right things. It’s a change in confidence.”

Behind Lucht, came Lara Kallem in 29th, Kaya Young at 34th, Katie Murano in 39th, Macie Bopp at 45th and Sophie Hall right behind at 46th to bring the Storm to a score of 138. 

With the NCAA announcing that all 2020-21 athletes will be granted an extra year of eligibility, several Simpson student-athletes have unofficially announced that they will be back for a fifth-year. 

“We have a ton of seniors, but a lot of them are coming back next year,” Moenck said. “We are going to set the bar high for next year.”