11/22/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/22/2019 21:15
VANCOUVER, Wash. -- With three runners in the top 100, the Mount Mercy women posted the highest team finish ever at nationals, placing 21st out of 37 teams at the 2019 NAIA Cross Country Championships at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site on Friday. Individual qualifier Jacob Blackmon (SR/Bakersfield, Calif.) was a top-200 finisher for the Mustang men.
Vanessa Cortes (SR/Bakersfield, Calif.), Emily Erickson (SO/West Des Moines, Iowa), and Andrea Ertz (SR/Central City, Iowa) led the way for the Mount Mercy women's squad. Cortes, the Heart of America Athletic Conference individual champion earlier this month, placed 71st in a field of 340 racers with a time of 19:11. Erickson finished 86th (19:21) followed closely by Ertz in 89th (19:22). Rounding out the Mustangs' top seven were Kelsi Huhndorf (SO/Marion, Iowa) (195th/20:03), Jessica Ertz (SR/Central City, Iowa) (240th/20:27), Hallie Kephart (FR/Cedar Rapids, Iowa) (292nd/21:30), and Mady Roth (SR/Bakersfield, Calif.) (295th/21:33).
'The women had a fantastic team race,' said Head Coach Tad Hulst. 'They got out after it early and ran gutsy. Vanessa set the tone, sticking her nose in the front groups early and everyone else followed suit.'
Madonna (Mich.) cruised to the women's team title with 111 points while Hannah Stoffel of Huntington (Ind.) was the individual national champion, crossing the finish line in 17:18. Runner-up in the team standings was College of Idaho (147 pts.), followed by SCAD Atlanta (Ga.) (163), St. Francis (Ill.) (238), Aquinas (Mich.) (240), Taylor (Ind.) (249), Indiana Wesleyan (275), Milligan (Tenn.) (289), Southern Oregon (305), and Huntington (Ind.) (339). Mount Mercy came in 21st with 519 points, the best team finish in school history. The Mustangs were 24th in 2001 and 2018.
'Emily and Jess ran huge PRs on a tough course,' Hulst said. 'The whole squad did everything they could for each other and earned the best team finish in school history. I'm incredibly proud of them today and of this entire team's historic season.'
Blackmon ran nearly two minutes quicker than he did as a sophomore at the 2017 national championships at Fort Vancouver. He crossed the finish line in 27:01, good for 183rd out of 335 runners in the men's 8K. Oklahoma City earned its fifth national title with 110 points. The rest of the top 10 included Taylor (171 pts.), Lewis-Clark (Idaho) (187), Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) (195), College of Idaho (203), St. Mary (Kan.) (225), Shawnee State (Ohio) (228), Indiana Wesleyan (261), The Masters (Calif.) (282), and St. Francis (Ill.) (315). Mark Shaw of Oklahoma City snagged the individual championship with a time of 24:39.
'Jacob ran a really strong race to cap off an awesome senior season,' Hulst said. 'He ran 1:43 faster than he did on this course two years ago. I'm really proud of the growth and accomplishments he had this fall.'