Willadsen nearly earns all-region honors, cross country finishes 2015 strong

Willadsen nearly earns all-region honors, cross country finishes 2015 strong

PELLA, Iowa – The Simpson men's cross country team saved one of its best runs of the season for last, placing 13th/29 at the NCAA Regional Championships on Saturday at Central College's 8K course.

"We couldn't have run any better," head coach Heath Moenck said. "It was great to put together a complete, team-race to finish up the season."

The field included 198 runners with the top 35 earning all-region honors and the Storm nearly had one of their own in that group.

Junior Blake Willadsen finished 38th, crossing the finish line in 26:41.6 to lead Simpson. It was the fifth consecutive race Willadsen has posted a team-best time, having done so in every race the junior has competed in this season.

Willadsen was joined by Ian McKenzie amongst Simpson's top-50 finishers. McKenzie, a sophomore,  was just 10 seconds behind Willadsen's pace for 47th.

"Willadsen, McKenzie and our whole squad ran a terrific race," Moenck said. "It was evident that there was vast improvement from last season, and that's all you can ask for."

The race featured seven runners from each team, with five finishing in the top-100 for the Storm.

Other Simpson Individual Results:
85th – Fr. Trey Thompson (27:44.0)
91st – Sr. Nick Yaeger (27:51.7)
100th – Sr. Miles Kirts (28:04.5)
131st – Jr. Ethan Pellegrino (28:39.5)
133rd – Fr. Brady Eversmeyer (28:41.6)

The seven Storm runners ran at an average of 27:26.7 to finish ahead of 14th place St. Scholastica and one spot behind UW-Superior.

Simpson finished fifth of eight amongst Iowa Conference schools, besting Coe (20th), Dubuque (23rd) and Buena Vista (24th).

The overall individual winner was Central's Cole Decker, breaking the tape in 25:05.1.

Top 5 Teams:
1. St. Olaf
2. Central
3. Loras
4. Wartburg
5. Luther

"The credit goes to the kids for putting forth the best effort they could Saturday and all throughout the season," Moenck said.

Prospects look well for the Storm next season as five of the seven runners who competed in the race Saturday will return in 2016.