The Central men’s cross country team doesn’t expect to wait another 32 years for an NCAA Division III national meet appearance.
Qualifying for the first time since 1980, the surprising Dutch used an all-underclass lineup to tie for 12th at the NCAA meet in Terre Haute, Ind. Nov. 17, the best finish in program history.
Sophomore Eli Horton earned all-America honors with a 29th-place finish. Freshman Cole Decker and sophomore Drew Jackson followed in 40th and 56th places, respectively, turning in career-best times. Junior Austin O’Brien, junior Brent Ewing, freshman Sloan Beninga and junior Cody Doughan were also part of the elite field, leaving hopes burning bright for the program’s future.
Earlier, Horton, Decker and Jackson swept the top three spots as Central used a dominant performance to win the program’s first-ever Iowa Conference title. Horton was named the league MVP, and Joe Dunham took coach of the year honors. Central finished with 33 points with defending champ Loras next at 50.
Unranked in the preseason, the Dutch earned their national berth by finishing second in the NCAA Central Region meet.