Morningside will have competitors in both the men’s and women’s races at Saturday’s NAIA Cross Country National Championships.
Morningside College will have competitors in both the men’s and women’s races at Saturday’s NAIA Cross Country National Championships at North Farm Cross Country Course in Elsah, Ill.
The Mustangs qualified their women’s team by virtue of winning their first-ever Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) championship two weeks ago at the GPAC Cross Country Championships in Hastings, Neb., where they unseated four-time defending champion Dordt College.
Morningside’s Alec DeVries, a junior from Merrill, Iowa, earned an individual at-large berth into the men’s field after he finished fourth in the individual standings at the GPAC Championships.
DeVries, a three-time All-GPAC performer, will compete at nationals for the third time in his career. He finished 97th as a freshman and 33rd as a sophomore.
The Mustang women moved up to No. 17 in the NAIA national rankings following their victory at the GPAC Championships. Morningside returns to the NAIA Cross County National Championships for the second year in a row and for the fourth time since 2010. Morningside finished 25th at last year’s NAIA National Championships.
Morningside’s top finish at the NAIA National Championships was a 15th place finish in 2010.
The Mustangs return four of the runners who competed for them at last year’s NAIA Championships, including their top two finishers in Tiffany Shepherd and Michelle Mumm. Shepherd, a senior from Corning, Iowa, finished 60th at last year’s NAIA Championships, while Mumm, a junior from Neola, Iowa, finished 70th.
Shepherd was the Mustangs’ top finisher at each of their five meets during the regular season, including the individual championship at the Mount Marty Invitational. She finished third at the GPAC Championships to earn All-GPAC honors for the third time in her career.
Mumm is coming off her best finish of the season after she was the individual runner-up at the GPAC Championships to earn All-GPAC honors for the second time in her career.
Morgan Applegarth, a sophomore from Lincoln, Neb., finished 12th at this year’s GPAC Championships to earn All-GPAC honors for the second year in a row.
Applegarth and Payton Boer, a sophomore from Sioux Center, Iowa, both ran at last year’s NAIA Championships as freshman.
Three of the Mustangs’ competitors will be competing at the NAIA Championships for the first time in their careers. The Mustangs’ first-time national competitors are Natalie Lambert, a freshman from Paton, Iowa; Cassie Warner, a sophomore from Council Bluffs, Iowa; and Alexandra George, a freshman from Seward, Neb.
The pre-meet favorite in the women’s division is defending champion Northwest Christian University. The Beacons were ranked No. 1 in the nation throughout the season and return their top four national finishers from last year’s national championship team.