HANOVER, Ind. – The Carleton College men’s cross country team returned to the national meet for the first time in six seasons and used a strong mid-race surge in racing to a 16th-place result. Hart Hornor (So./Seattle, Wash./Roosevelt) concluded his strong sophomore campaign by being the Knights’ top finisher, crossing the line 64th with a time of 25:40.8.
“The guys stay cooled and poised and did not panic at the early fast pace,” explained Carleton head coach Dave Ricks. “We ran very smartly and moved up throughout the race. The leaders went through the first 400 meters in 58 seconds. Our guys stayed cool and hit the 400-meter mark in about 68 seconds. This showed me how well they knew themselves and how much confidence that they had. Anyone can just go out hard and fall off the pace later; it takes real confidence to trust your own judgment and ignore some of those distractions.”
St. Olaf College won the team competition, capturing its first national title and narrowly edging defending champion North Central College 84 to 86. UW-La Crosse was next with 155 points. Top individual honors went to Micahel LeDuc of Connecticut College. He held off a pack of three other runners with a finishing time of 24:29.3, four seconds in front of his closest competitor.
Throughout the season it was apparent that the central region was very deep, with five teams advancing to nationals—two via automatic qualifiers and three at-large berths. Four of those squads finished among the nation’s top 16 teams. In addition to St. Olaf claiming the team championship, Central College placed sixth with 240 points, Luther College was 14th at 413 points, Carleton tallied 442 points, and Loras College rounded out the group in 26th with 543 points.
“Just an outstanding season, from the start until the very end,” said Ricks. “This team did a great job over the summer and came in healthy. Our top guys managed to stay healthy all season and gained a lot of confidence along the way. Simply a remarkable turn-around from a year ago, when we were 12th in our region and sixth in our conference—by ending up 16th in the nation.”
Hornor sat in 94th place at the three-kilometer checkpoint but made his move over the next stretch, improving 27 spots by the time six-kilometer splits were recorded. He basically held that spot over the remainder of the race, moving up three more slots over the final quarter of the race.
“Hart Hornor was back on his game; he was simply a ‘catalyst’ this year,” said Ricks.
Senior Marcus Huderle (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie) made a huge move of his own during the middle portion of the race. He was about 230th after the first 2000 meters and jumped 45 spots over the next kilometer, then passed 90 more runners by the time he hit the six-kilometer checkpoint. That was the second-biggest jump in the 275-runner field. Huderle ultimately finished 89th with a time of 25:51.4.
Jacob Hoerger (Sr./Chapel Hill, N.C./Chapel Hill) posted a finishing time of 26:02.7 to rank 120th. While he made a big move during the middle of the race, Hoerger was able to continue climbing up the standings all the way to the finish line. Sitting nearly 250th at the two–kilometer split, he improved 25 spots over the next 1000 meters. Hoerger passed nearly 60 more runners over the next stretch and sat 167th at the six-kilometer mark. The senior just kept picking off runners one after another, improving to 25 spots over the next kilometer and another 18 spots down the home stretch.
“It was very satisfying to see seniors Marcus Huderle and Jacob Hoerger run so well,” Ricks said. “Marcus had his best season ever, and Jacob had great race after great race, culminating in this outstanding team achievement.”
Jonah Barry (So./Madison, Wis./Madison West) followed a similar formula to cross the line 135th overall with a time of 26:10.4. Running alongside Huderle for the first quarter of the race, Barry waited until the mid-point to make his move, picking up more than 55 slots by the time six-kilometer split times were recorded. Now 175th, Barry improved twenty spots over the next kilometer and another twenty over the final 1000 meters.
Joe Haase (So./Madison, Wis./Madison West) rounded out the scorers for Carleton. He was the 190th finisher overall at 26:30.1. His big mid-race jump resulted in an improvement of nearly 45 spots in the standings.
“Jonah Barry has helped to keep the front pack patient early in the race,” Ricks explained. “Joe Haase has come up big over the past few weeks. Everyone has contributed.”
Guthrie Cunningham (Sr./Finland, Minn./Duluth East) and Thor Laack-Veeder (Jr./Madison, Wis./LaFollette) also raced for Carleton, posting times of 27:03.8 and 28:15.5, respectively.
“Guthrie Cunningham closed out his career by making it to nationals, which is just great. Thor and (nationals alternate) Noah Laack-Veeder just bring so much energy to the team and get everyone else excited,” said Ricks. “As we say, ‘Thor brings the Thunder, and Noah brings the Boat.’ You need both on a team.
“It's been an incredible fall, tracking along the same lines of our 2007 national qualifying team. We were trying to honor the efforts of that team by trying to finish with a lower point total than theirs, 509 points. Not only did we beat that with 442 points, but we scored the exact same total that our women's team scored an hour earlier.
"Finally, I've got the best young assistant coach in the country in Josh Schoen. I wouldn't trade him for anyone else, at any level. He has the perfect disposition to work with these young men and has helped to build their confidence along the way. It's great to have someone to work with that you can trust 100 percent. I'm glad that he got the chance to travel with us and see the results of all of his and the team's hard work."