NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – You couldn't have put a piece of paper between the top three finishing squads at the 2017 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships Saturday, Oct. 28.
Circling MU's campus course with fans cheering all along the 6K course, the defending champion Spartans, Rose-Hulman and Bluffton University battled tooth and nail from start to finish. When the proverbial dust had settled, the Fightin' Engineers had their program's first title with 56 points, while the Black and Gold were a narrow second (60) and BU ended third (63).
"We had some great performances but also have some areas we need to improve on," Coach Geoff Lambert noted. "There are two weeks ahead now to get ready for regionals. Some hard work needs to happen for us to reach some goals that were set (early in the season)."
Sophomore Hannah Wappes (Columbia City, Ind.) led the individual finishes for the host school. She placed second to the Beavers' Alexis Cash in a cat-and-mouse theme that developed around the course. Cash crossed in 22:57.63 compared to Wappes' 23:12.7. Fellow Columbia City native Samina Qureshi (Columbia City, Ind.) was also among the first five, placing fifth (23:50.57). Sophomore Emily Ewen (Wolcott, Ind.) added a third all-conference award, winding up 10th. Wappes and Ewen each picked up their second all-loop award, while Qureshi garnered her first. Sophomore Emily Lynn (North Manchester, Ind.), who had earlier delivered a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner to open the conference meet, added to her positive early afternoon with an 18th-place mark to gain honorable mention honors.
The Spartans break from competition next weekend to prepare for the 2017 NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional Saturday, Nov. 11.