The North Central College men’s cross country team did not let the fluctuating weather affect them as they coasted through the 8,000-meter (4.97-mile) course at Principia College and took home an 18th NCAA Division III Cross Country National Championship on November 18.
The Cardinals took home the victory by scoring 57 points, with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse finishing in second with 196 points. Last year, North Central set the record for largest margin of victory at the Division III National Championship, and this year they were only five points away from reaching that mark for the second straight year.
Candy-striped uniforms littered the field, with Jared Borowsky ’21 (24:12.44) taking runner-up and Dhruvil Patel ’19 (24:14.15) not far behind in third. Al Baldonado’19 (24:34.92) and Matthew Norvell ’19 (24:42.24) took eighth and 17th, respectively. The final scorer for North Central was Dan O'Keefe ’18 (25:03.84), taking 45th place. The last two finishers for the Cardinals were Argeni Bailon ’18 (25:11.63) and Zach Hird ’19 (25:25.30) in 60th and 86th. For their efforts, Borowsky, Patel, Baldonado and Norvell received All-American honors.
“We need everyone’s energy together heading in the same direction to get where we want to go. And that is what I saw out there today.” Al Carius, head coach
“It was a tremendous team performance,” said head coach Al Carius, who was voted the 2017 NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, giving him the award for the 11th time and the sixth time in the past nine seasons. “We use the word ‘team’ but it’s not a word, it’s a feeling. It’s an invisible bond that connects us all together. We need everyone’s energy together heading in the same direction to get where we want to go. And that is what I saw out there today.”
The Cardinals came out strong early in the wet and windy conditions and were in good position to pick off their competition as they went through the race.
“Getting out hard is one of the most important parts of a big race like this,” said Patel.
The end of the race saw the Cardinals moving up in the field, with all seven North Central runners making up spots down the stretch.
“I just happen to always have a good kick,” Borowsky said. “I knew behind me my teammates were doing well and I had that in the back of my mind and I just had to do it for them.”
This marks the fifth time in the last eight years that North Central has won the Division III Cross Country National Championship.