PELLA — An unseasonably hot Saturday morning did not stop the Southwestern Community College men from a solid performance at the Central Dutch Invitational.
Aaron Ward led the No. 19 ranked Spartans with a 25th place finished on the 8k course, crossing the line in 29:30.
Sophomore Rayvonne Brown led the pack of Cassidy Warson, Gage Beers and Ovan Garcia to round out the top five, scoring 27th, 32nd, 35th and 36th respectively.
“It was a real team effort by the men,” head coach Bill Huntington said. “It was our first 8K of the season and I thought they handled it well.”
Huntington said the heat and the course played a factor in slower times, but the experience of racing a longer distance against solid competition will pay off later in the season.
“It is a beautiful course, but there is little shade from the sun and it looped three times, so it just drained the runners,” Huntington said.
The men placed fifth overall, ahead of Grand View and Indian Hills Community College.
Also running for the Central alumni squad was former Murray standout Andrew Hamer. He placed 27th overall and is currently training for marathons.
In her first collegiate 6K, Hannah Murphy crossed the line in 29:07, finishing 41st overall.
Teammates Sarah McKeon and Kristin Klocksiem followed in 55th and 58th respectively.
“It was a good day for our ladies, they were able to hold a decent pace for the conditions and moved up on some of the teams in our region,” Huntington said.
As a team, the Spartan women are ranked 24th in the nation. It is only the second time in program history the men and women have been ranked in the top 25 at the same time.
Former Spartan Kalli McCann placed 21st overall. She is currently running for Grand View.
The Spartans are off this weekend to focus on training and focus on key workouts that will start to get them more race ready.
“We have two solid weeks of training before Grand View,” Huntington said. “We traditionally run well there and it is on Friday evening so conditions are usually perfect.”
Men’s team standings
1. Carleton, 36; 2. Central College, 40; 3. Loras, 50; 4. Buena Vista, 134; 5. Southwestern CC, 152; 6. Grandview, 156; 7. Indian Hills CC, 202.
Men’s individual standings
25. Aaron Ward, 27. Andrew Hamer (Murray), 39. Rayvonne Brown, 46. Cassidy Warson, 52. Gage Beers, 53. Ovan Garcia, 63. Joe Bierl, 66. Josh Cobb.
Women’s individual standings
41. Hannah Murphy, 55. Sarah McKeon, 58. Kristin Klocksiem.