Akway to Return to XC Nationals

Oskaloosa–Running on their home turf, the William Penn cross country teams had respectable finishes to their 2015 campaigns as they competed at the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championships Saturday.

Ochaung Akway (Sr., St. Paul, Minn., Physical Education) paced the navy and gold as he will make his second-consecutive trip to the NAIA National Championships after earning an at-large berth.  The senior, who helped the Statesmen to eighth place out of 12 teams (187 points), was 10th individually out of 92 runners on the 8K course at 27:10.9.

Akway claimed the second-to-last individual qualification and will trek to Charlotte, N.C. for the November 21 NAIA event.  He will seek to improve upon a finish of 216th from last fall.

The senior is just the third Statesmen male since 2001 to make multiple trips to nationals.

Benedictine (Kan.) took the team crown with 40 points, while Mount Mercy joins the Ravens as the league’s second automatic qualifier with a runner-up tally of 101 points.

BC’s Christopher Buhler topped all participants with a time of 26:32.0.

Garrett Heckman (So., New Virginia, Iowa, Mechanical Engineering) also had a strong showing, finishing 28th at 28:18.1, while Brenice Ndayizeye (Sr., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Computer Science) (41st, 28:57.1) and Zach Johnson (So., Decatur, Ill., Mechanical Engineering) (55th, 29:45) also crossed the line in under 30 minutes.

Amani Richardson (So., Carrollton, Va., Exercise Science) was 64th (30:38.1) to round out the team scoring, while Tyler Connelly (So., Trenton, Texas, Software Engineering) (68th, 30:54.5) and Tian Siggins (Jr., Atlantic, Iowa, Physical Education) (71st, 31:14.2) also competed for WPU.

Deja Lewis (Jr., Spring, Texas, Psychology) was William Penn’s best female harrier Saturday, helping her team to 10th place out of 14 squads.  The senior was 36th in a time of 21:00.0.

Benedictine (25 points) and Mount Mercy (76) also went 1-2 in the women’s standings and will represent the Heart at nationals.  Raven runner Katherine Dillard was at the front of the 110-person field in a 5K time of 18:36.0.

Guadalupe Gonzalez (So., Houston, Texas, Exercise Science) was next for the Statesmen, taking 55th at 21:55.1.  Destiny Galvin (Fr., Galesburg, Ill., Undecided) (75th, 23:18.9), Alexys Devlin (Jr., Davenport, Iowa, Physical Education) (82nd, 23:47.4), and Arianna Davis (So., New Sharon, Iowa, Biology) (91st, 24:31.0) completed the courseSaturday as well.

“We tested the waters in our new conference and I think, given the issues we had on both sides this fall, we held our own pretty well,” Coach Sean Gosewisch said.  “There is still room for improvement, but now we know how we stack up and what we need to do.  Our athletes ran great and represented us well.”

Story provided by Wade Steinlage

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