Aaron Ladzinksi – Staff Writer
Dordt’s cross country team had an excellent year, ending it at the NAIA nationals in Kansas. The entire women’s team qualified for the event. The men’s team sent two members to nationals as well.
The women’s team finished 5th overall in the national event. The team had 235 points overall, but missed receiving the lowest score, which is the goal for cross country teams. The winner of the day was a team from British Columbia, receiving only 43 points.
Kayla Byl was the top runner for Dordt, earning an All-American recognition. Byl finished in the top 30, with her official placing landing at 24th overall. Her time was 18.28. The second runner behind her for Dordt was Lauren Opp, with a time of 18.44. Then followed Abby De Vries with a time of 19.00.
The competition was stiff and Dordt performed well. “The field was large and tough as they keep the pace up during race,” said runner Abby De Vries. “It was a great time and next year we’re coming back even better.”
Lauren Opp is a senior at Dordt and has watched the team develop. The bond that has developed between team members has become important for all involved.
“We are a family, to make a short description of the team. We laugh together, we cry together, suffer together and just live life together. The team has been a tremendous support system for me all these years at Dordt.”
Nick Vanderkooi and Stephan McNamara represented Dordt’s men’s team. The two made it there by qualifying during the GPAC race. Vanderkooi finished 143rd of 310 runners. Vanderkooi’s official time was 26.48 for the 8,000 meter race. McNamara finished 164th with a time of 26.59. This was Vanderkooi’s second appearance at the event. Last year Vander Kooi finished in 127th place with a time of 26.10.
The teams hope to rebound next year, with both returning runners, and strong new recruits. First, however, majority of the cross country team will join the track team for the spring semester and hope to bring the Defenders some hardware in the spring. Even though the majority of the team will remain long distance runners, some may try sprints as well.