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Women’s cross country wins MIAA championship

GRANT TIGHE / ANTELOPE STAFF Women’s cross country celebrated their first MIAA championship win after their meet at the Kearney Country Club.

There weren’t many people that predicted the UNK women’s cross country team winning the MIAA championship this year. The team was unranked in the Division II coaches poll coming into the meet and stunned everyone by earning a decisive victory at the Kearney Country Club on Saturday. 

UNK was able to step up despite many teams in the mix to win it this year. 

“We thought there were five or six teams capable of winning it,” said coach Brady Bonsall. “We really think that if this race was run five or six different times you might get five or six different outcomes.” 

The team was led by Bonsall’s daughter, Grace, who placed fifth in the six kilometer race with a time of 22:38.65. Senior Maddie Bach placed ninth with a time of 22:51.51 and senior Destiny Reinke placed 16th running it in 23:09.10. 

Emerging as a redshirt freshman this year, Grace Bonsall has ran well for the Lopers in her first season.

“It’s fun coaching your daughter and it changes the dynamic in our relationship in a good way,” Brady Bonsall said. “I know how hard she works and she just really wants to be good at this.”

It initially did not look like the Lopers were in a good spot down the final stretch, but that was because Bach’s chip didn’t register at the 5K mark. Once she crossed the finish line the Lopers knew that they would be in good shape.

Senior Zoe Ritz and redshirt freshman Elizabeth Polk finished 21st and 23rd respectively, rounding out a final team score of 74 for the Lopers in their first conference championship since 1985. Central Missouri finished in second with a team score of 88 and Pittsburg State was third with a score of 95. 

“We’ve got three seniors who probably should’ve been seniors a year ago and because of COVID they’re back now for their senior year,” Bonsall said. “All three of them probably had reasons to pull back and every one of them sucked it up and was beating people at the end. So those three, Maddie, Zoe and Destiny, just super proud of them.”

The UNK men’s cross country team came into the MIAA Championships ranked 24th Nationally. The team finished fourth with a total score of 98 falling behind Pittsburg State, Missouri Western and Northwest Missouri.

The team was led by redshirt freshman Myles Bach, who ran a time of 24:50.04 in the eight kilometer race. The transfer from Gonzaga has transitioned well in his first year running for the Lopers.  

“Myles has trained a ton and he really understands running, but just kinda the way his career has played out with COVID and the impact on him when he was at Gonzaga… He just hasn’t gotten to race a lot,” Bonsall said. 

Redshirt juniors Luke Stuckey and Justin Vrooman placed 17th and 21st respectively. Redshirt sophomore Ben Arens came in 26th and redshirt freshman Nick Abdalla placed 29th. 

“The race did get rough in the middle and we had some guys who were struggling,” Bonsall said. “But it kind of mimics what’s going to happen at the regional meet and the 10K. That’s how it plays out. For a day that was imperfect the result wasn’t all that bad.”

Both teams will compete at the NCAA Central Regional in Joplin, Missouri Nov. 6. The runners will have a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships that take place Nov. 20 in Tampa, Florida. 

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