The William Jewell College (WJC) men’s and women’s cross country teams competed Sept. 6 at home in the Cardinal Invitational. This meet was the first hosted by William Jewell on campus property since the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championships at Stocksdale Park in 2009.
Four women’s teams competed in the four-kilometer race: Avila University, Park University, William Jewell and Rockhurst University. Park took first place as a team and Jewell was a close second. Jewell’s top finisher was first year Josie Wilkerson, who finished fifth overall. Five Cardinals placed top 15 in the race.
In the men’s competition, three schools competed in a five-kilometer race: Avila University, Jewell and Park University. Once again, Park placed first as a team with Jewell coming in second. Jewell’s top finisher was junior Uriah Heady, who placed second overall. All six Cardinals finished in the top 15.
The new cross country course is located just north of Cardinal Hill Golf Course, and has helped prepare the team for the rigorous season ahead. Heady appreciated the home field advantage.
“It was nice to have a meet at Jewell because we usually have to travel in vans to other races. We were able to wake up at a certain time and travel a mile to the course,” Heady said.
He particularly valued the presence of the Jewell community.
“It’s cool to run at Jewell, too, because we have more fans that come there than what we do at other meets,” Heady said.
Head Coach Justin Garrard is excited for the opportunities the new home course can bring.
“It is a true cross country course with a lot of uphill and downhill stretches, and we train out there several times a week during the fall. It is a very special place, devoted entirely to cross country, and it was a lot of fun hosting a competition out there,” Garrard said.“We will plan on hosting this same cross country meet here next year, but also look at growing the number of teams competing there,” he said.
Garrard is also pleased with the team’s performance and a successful season.
“I feel great about where we are at this point in the season. Both the men’s and women’s team placed five runners in the top 15, which is significant. The men and women of the Jewell cross country team are pleased with the results, but not content,” Garrard said.
With the first meet completed, the Cardinals have their sights set on the post-season Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) meet Nov. 8 in Romeoville, Ill. Both are looking to improve their team finishes from last year and to qualify to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Midwest Regional tournament.
The team will continues to train diligently.
“I think it helps that everyone trains together. It creates chemistry on the team,” Heady said. “We all know how we each run, so it helps in the meets, too, because we can pick a person to run with for certain parts of the race,” he said.
The next meet for both teams is Sept. 13 at the University of Central Missouri (UCM) in Warrensburg, Mo.