Goshen College cross country is fast — but we all know that.The real news? They’re now faster than they’ve ever been.
Ezra Kipruto ran a 24:56 8K with Nelson Kemboi hot on his heels at 24:58, and the men set the school record for the best finishing time of all five scoring runners on Saturday at the Live in Lou Classic in Louisville. The team ran a combined time of 127:26, an average of 25:29 for an 8K.
Then, less than an hour later, the women nearly did the same.
Led by Naomi Ross-Richer (18:44) in 51st and Summer Cooper (18:47) hot on her heels in 55th, the women finished 25th out of a stacked 47-team field with a combined time of 97:31 (a 19:30 5K average). The only Goshen team with a better time was the 2002 women at the Midcentral College Conference Championships.
When asked how he felt about the race, Leafs head coach Rustin Nyce hesitated and responded “I mean, it feels good, I guess.” After a race that set a school record, nearly set another, moved both teams up in the national rankings, and was the first time the Goshen men’s team beat Crossroads League rival Taylor University under Nyce, you might expect him to be a little more excited.
If you do, you don’t know Nyce. Since the preseason, he’s been talking about the “process” that this team is working on. “We’re building towards the end of the season,” Nyce said after Louisville. “In September, the results don’t really stand for a whole lot…even now in October, they don’t really, but it’s a little more [important].”
He described the race as “affirming, but not surprising.” Annika Alderfer Fisher shared her coach’s mentality, calling Saturday “exciting.”
“It’s great evidence that our training is [working]…and we expect to only get faster from here,” Alderfer Fisher said.
With her time of 19:22, Alderfer Fisher crossed the line third for the Leafs, followed by Mia Wellington with a 20:18 and Nataly Esqueda in 20:19. Goshen placed ahead of the 23rd, 24th and 25th-ranked teams in the NAIA coaches’ poll.
“It depends how the raters feel,” Nyce said. “But we beat…23, 24, and 25 and a bunch of receiving votes teams. So I feel like women should probably be [ranked] in the 20 to 25 range.”
Meanwhile, the men finished 13th out of a 45-team race that included programs like Xavier and Marshall. With victories over seven ranked opponents, including conference rivals Taylor and Spring Arbor, Nyce is hoping to be ranked somewhere between 12th and 14th.
After Kipruto and Kemboi finished 28th and 30th, respectively, Drew Hogan was the next to cross the line for the Leafs in a time of 25:34, good enough for 88th place. The team was rounded out by Liam Elias (25:53) in 122nd and Jackson Steinmetz (26:06) in 151st.