Goshen’s men and women’s cross-country teams avoided the typical early season heat, but not the strong winds as they participated in the annual Hokum Karem. Runners were buffeted to fairly slow times across the board. Both teams ended up finishing third out of the four teams in attendance. Huntington University and Trine University took first and second in both races.

The Hokum Karem differs from the standard collegiate race format. In the event, runners from teams compete in pairs, alternating miles. The scores are determined by the general placement of the first three pairs from each team to finish. The men’s race runs for ten miles and the women’s goes on for six, so each runner ends up doing about the same mileage as a standard event.

Underclassmen made a strong statement in the women’s race. Freshmen duo Allison Beitler and Audrey Thill crossed the line first for the Maple Leafs and fourth overall posting a time of 39:33. Sophomore partners Karla Folker and Erin Helmuth cruised through in seventh with a time of 41:57. Becca Augsburger and Alita Yoder scored eighth with the time of 42:01.

“Before coming to Goshen College I had never heard of a Hokum Karem, so the concept was entirely new to me,” said Thill. “This race was set up to be a fast-paced event and very watchable. I really appreciated the people that came and cheered us all on.”

The men’s race highlighted younger talent as well, as sophomore Jake GunderKline paired up with freshman Andrew Witkowski to be the first finishers for Goshen. They crossed in fourth place with a time of 53:34. Newcomers junior Billy Funk and senior Kurt Neufeld placed sixth with a time of 54:56. Senior Paul Verlsluis and sophomore Brock GunderKline followed closely with a seventh place finish and a time of 55:29.

“The windy conditions made for slower than usual times, but made the overall race pretty interesting and close. With four out of our top six runners from this race returning next year, we should definitely be in the running to win it,” GunderKline said.

Optimism for competitive men and women’s cross country seasons remains high despite the third place finish. The competition at this particular event was strong for a season opener. Both Trine University and Huntington University are perennial powerhouses within the MCC.

“I was very pleased with myself in the outcome of the race,” said Allison Beitler. “I think the team really did well, a lot of the girls had really consistent times and were able to negative split their last mile.”

Other finishers for the Maple Leafs included Leah Thill and Jenica Corbett (44:00) in the women’s race, and David Horst and John Tamrat (58:18), Dietrich Alderfer and Luke Slagel (58:42) and Ben Sutter and Barrett Donna (77:36) in the men’s.

Goshen travels to Defiance, Ohio, on Saturday where they will compete in the standard five kilometer and eight kilometer races.