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CC Harriers wrap up 2017 at NCAA Regionals

November 11, 2017


DELAWARE, Ohio - While the HCAC conference cross country championship witnessed the women’s team having a banner day, the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship saw the men’s squad claim the most applause. 

Sophomore Dakota Frost (Edgerton/Hicksville) capped off a superb season with the race of his life and a record-breaking one at that. Frost came home in 28th place in the five-state field of 242 runners, an All-Region and All-Academic placing, and the highest regional finish in Bluffton cross country history. “It was the hardest race of my life,” said Frost in the finishing corral. “I just kept wringing more and more out of myself.” Distance coach Jim Brandt added, “Dakota so totally deserves this performance. His summer mileage build up was on the mark; he has raced and trained with complete commitment all season; and he totally executed today at a level far beyond what he’d ever done before.” Frost’s teammates also had a day to be proud of. The scoring men of junior Jonah Eckert (Terre Haute, Ind./West Vigo), sophomore Connor Gulick (St. Louisville, Ohio/Utica), and juniors Wyatt Baer (Marshallville, Ohio/Smithville) and Jacob Hill (Dayton/Wayne) amassed a 22nd place team finish in the field of 36 and for the first time in school history, surpassed the perennially strong conference-rival Manchester. 

The women’s team, while less than pleased with their day, nevertheless had a number of things of which to be proud. The team had its best-ever regional finish of 19th in a field 35. Sophomore Alexis Cash (Gaines, MI/Lake Fenton), who admittedly let the pressure of expectation after winning last week’s conference championship get to her, placed 61st among 247 to secure the best women’s regional finish in school history, and like Frost, an All-Academic performance as well. In order to achieve All-Academic standing, one must finish in the top 25 percent of their competing field and have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.30 of better. Among the scorers following Cash were freshmen Kimmie Hetrick (Fremont/Ross), senior Alissa Hauke (Hillsboro), and sophomore Arie Cox (Ontario) all of whom ran outstanding efforts, especially Cox who was knocked off her feet in the first 100 meters of the race but regained her composure to compete with tenacity, and junior Jennie Matteson (Guysville/Alexander) who, like Cash, felt her own self-imposed pressure.

“It is difficult to come off the high of the conference meet two weeks ago and repeat that kind of performance and handle the pressure that comes with it,” said head coach Karen Brandt, “Especially when you are now in the even higher stakes regional field. We had the potential as a team to do more today than we did, but athletics always has its ups and down. No athlete is a machine that can self-program or be programed by a coach to have the perfect race. Three of our scoring five had huge races today, and two were off. With a small squad, you need all five to have A+ races on the same day. That doesn’t happen often. Despite their disappointment, we still eclipsed our best women’s team and individual performances ever. I am so very proud of all of the men and women on this year’s team and celebrate their many accomplishments!”

This closes the 2017 Bluffton University cross country season. For these dedicated distance runners it is now a few weeks of active rest until the indoor track and field season starts at Defiance College on Saturday, Dec. 2.