After being expected to finish fourth place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) this season, the ISU men’s cross country team has been proving polls wrong, coming in second place for the second time in the early part of the season, this time at home for the ISU Invite.
Junior Ryan Rutherford won a near photo finish after beating North Central College’s John Crain to grab first-place in the race. He posted a career best eight-kilometer time of 24:21.96. Rutherford was aiming for a best time on the day, and he was able to get it.
“I was wondering if I’d be able to get a best time today at a certain point in the race when I heard the time. It was a little lower than my previous best, so I’m pretty happy with that,” Rutherford said.
While he was happy about his performance, he couldn’t leave out how the rest of the team performed as well.
“We did really well today, we had three guys under 25 minutes, which is better than a few years (ago), so we’re definitely happy with that,” he explained.
ISU head cross country coach Jeff Bovee was also pleased with how the team did, with Sophomore Tyler Morse in particular, who finished third in the race with a personal-best 8K time of 24:43.48.
“Tyler Morse, getting third, made a huge jump from last year. I’m just really happy for him. He’s worked so hard. That’s going to be a huge boost for our team,” Bovee said.
After Morse, Sean Senf finished ninth for the Redbirds. Dave Eckhart placed 11th, and Jeff Bajema finished 18th to round out the Redbirds’ top-five.
On the women’s side, the Redbirds also finished in second. But, after being selected to finish first in the conference this season, Bovee felt he could have gotten a little more from the team as a whole.
“The women kind of had a slow start today. We were at a good starting point, but we certainly did not get out and compete well the first thousand meters or the first mile or so. We did not get enough bodies out in front,” Bovee said.
While Bovee was hoping for a better performance from the women, he remains optimistic and feels they are still on the right track.
“A year ago we got beat here at home, but at the end of the year, when it matters, we’re at our best. I know we’ll be at our best in two months time, and so there’s a lot of positive things to look at.”
Leading the way for the women was Rachael Brewer, who placed third in the 5K with a time of 17:27.16. Following her was Kelly McShea and Kristin Zillmer, who finished seventh and ninth, respectively. The final two of the women’s top-five were Haley Goers and Kaley Ummel, who finished 15th and 18th, respectively.
The Redbirds’ next race will be on Sept. 28 when they travel to St. Paul, Minn., to run in the Roy Griak Invitational.