Morningside won its first-ever GPAC Women’s Cross Country championship.

Michelle Mumm

Morningside’s women’s cross country team captured its first-ever Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) championship at Saturday’s 2016 GPAC Cross Country Championships in Hastings, Neb.

The Mustangs, ranked 20th nationally in the latest NAIA Women’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, unseated No. 19 Dordt for the conference title, ending the Defenders’ four-year run as conference champions. Morningside finished with 56 points to win the title by a three-point margin over runner-up Dordt (59).

The GPAC championship earned Morningside an automatic entry into the 2016 NAIA Cross Country National Championships to be held Nov. 19 at North Farm Cross Country Course in Elsah, Ill. The Mustangs will make their second straight appearance in the national meet and their fourth overall.

Morningside’s Alec DeVries, a junior from Merrill, Iowa, is also headed to the NAIA Cross Country National Championships after he received an at-large berth as an individual.

Morningside was third in the men’s race with 80 points to finish behind Northwestern (34) and Dordt (69).

Michelle Mumm, a junior from Neola, Iowa, was the Mustangs’ fastest finisher for the first time this season with a time of 17:50.53 over the 5K course to finish as the GPAC individual runner-up behind individual champion Marissa DeWispelare of Doane, who won the race in 17:38.40.

Tiffany Shepherd

Alec DeVries

Tiffany Shepherd, a senior from Corning, Iowa, finished right behind Mumm with the third place time of 17:54.96 and the Mustangs’ Morgan Applegarth, a sophomore from Lincoln, Neb., just missed the top 10 with the 12th place time of 18:32.83.

The Mustangs’ other two counters were Payton Boer, a sophomore from Sioux Center, Iowa, who finished 16th with a time of 18:40.78, and Natalie Lambert, a freshman from Paton, Iowa, who finished 23rd with a time of 18:56.62.

DeVries led the Morningside men with a fourth place time of 25:32.33 over the 8K course.

The Mustangs had three other runners finish in the top 20. Sean Skillern, a senior from Shenandoah, Iowa, was 15th with a time of 26:05.58; Jason Kenny, a junior from Schaller, Iowa, was 18th with a time of 26:14.53; and Drew Schiltz, a senior from Hinton, Iowa, was 20th with a time of 26:19.34.

The GPAC team and individual champions earned automatic berths in the 2016 NAIA Cross Country National Championships. The NAIA will release a list of the additional team and individual qualifiers on Monday, Nov. 7.