(Grand Rapids, Mich.) Two weeks after running their best
meet of the season, the Cornerstone Women's Cross Country team returned to
Riverside Park for the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Championship.
Friday's wind had blown itself out and occasional breaks in the clouds took the
edge off the chilly morning.
Just as they did at the Great Lakes Invite, the Golden
Eagles got out aggressively in the opening mile, positioning themselves with
their targets from the other teams. With
Aquinas ranked 19th in the latest NAIA poll and Indiana Tech returning
to their national qualifying form from 2008, Cornerstone entered the meet
hoping to secure third.
"On paper we were within a couple points of Siena, so that
was our focus," said coach Rod Wortley. "They have a strong frontrunner, but
our pack is deeper and tighter than theirs."
Freshman, Jill Louisignau ran with the lead pack through the
first mile in 5:45 with Audry Yonge and Mindy Lewis together in 5:58. The next
three Golden Eagles were through within fifteen seconds.
By two miles, Louisignau was in a three-way battle for the
last individual qualifying spot for the NAIA National meet. The freshman faced
more experienced competition. Aside from Rachael Steil of Aquinas, Jill was the
only other freshman in the top eighteen.
Of the five yearlings in the top 21, three belonged to Cornerstone.
At the finish, Louisignau crossed the line eleventh, one
spot away from Nationals, in 19:11, just four seconds off her PR.
Audry Yonge, who two weeks ago required hospitalization
after her race, ran aggressively, placing 14th in 19:24 and
improving 31 seconds from her previous best.
The rest of the Golden Eagle pack finished 18-19-20 within
seven seconds of each other. They were led by freshman, Brianna Hansen whose
19:50 was her fourth PR in as many races. Senior Janelle Brown was just three
seconds off her best in 19:52 and freshman Mindy Lewis completed the team
scoring clocking 19:57.
As expected, Aquinas won with 25 points followed by Indiana
Tech with 62. The Saints from Siena who have
been without long time coach, Don Kleinow, as he has been battling health
problems most of the season, tallied 81 points. Cornerstone claimed fourth with
82. "Our women ran hard and raced well," said Wortley, "but Siena ran inspired
and some days you can't beat that. We wish Don all the best and hope to see him
soon during Indoor Track season."
While the Cornerstone women were not satisfied with fourth,
Wortley was pleased with the young team. "We lost five seniors after last
season and with five freshmen and five sophomores this should have been a
rebuilding year. But these women chose to pursue ambitious goals that were well
out of reach instead of being content to take a year to work their way up
gradually. While fourth place is disappointing, they ran faster than last
year's team the last two meets of the season which are the fifth and sixth
fastest times in program history. I've been impressed with their poise and
confidence all season and am extremely proud of how well they've done."