Qualifying for nationals has been on the radar for the University of Nebraska at Kearney men’s cross country team many times.
The Lopers never got the perfect races they needed at the Central Region meet, though, and ended up staying home.
This year, with a deeper roster, UNK just needed solid performances, and the Lopers delivered. UNK’s five scorers placed in the top 42 to earn 137 points and a fourth-place finish. That qualified the team for the NCAA Division II meet for the first time since 1999.
“The difference in us qualifying now isn’t that we’re head and shoulders better with our first and second runners,” coach Brady Bonsall said. “We didn’t feel like everyone had to have the perfect race.”
The Lopers’ three senior captains led the way, starting with Albion’s Kevin Carder, the team’s leader all season. He finished eighth in a time of 31:50.20. Nick Knudson of Norfolk Catholic was 20th and Joe Coil of Millard West 28th.
“For those three guys to come through like they did was great as seniors and captains and in what could have been their last cross country race if they hadn’t of qualified,” Bonsall said.
Nationals are Nov. 23 in Spokane, Wash. The Lopers’ best finish was second place in 1991.
» The College of St. Mary captured the MCAC cross country championship for the first time since 2004 and is headed to nationals.
Emily Weber, who placed first, was named runner of the year and Amy Sauser coach of the year.
“Emily has been a national qualifier for the past two seasons and is now a conference champion,” Sauser said. “She gutted it out over the last 300 meters and beat the two-time defending conference champion. It was a tremendous performance.”
» The Concordia men have earned an at-large bid to the NAIA cross country championships on Nov. 23 in Lawrence, Kan. Morningside advances as the GPAC champion.
» Top seed Hastings (18-2, 9-1) and second seed Midland (17-1-2, 8-0-2) will meet in the GPAC men’s soccer tournament final for the second year in a row. The Warriors beat Hastings 2-0 earlier this season. Game time is 7 p.m. Thursday in Hastings.
Top seed Morningside will host Midland and second seed Hastings will host Concordia on Tuesday in the women’s semifinals.
» Bellevue and the College of St. Mary meet at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in Bartlesville, Okla., in the semifinals of the MCAC soccer tournament.
» The Bellevue University volleyball team won the MCAC regular-season title and will host the league tournament this weekend. Bellevue’s first match will be at 8 p.m. Friday against the winner of the College of St. Mary-Oklahoma Wesleyan match, which will be at 4. The championship match will be at 1 p.m. Saturday.
» Central Community College (32-10) defeated Bismarck State twice in the NJCAA District G playoffs to advance to the Division II national tournament Nov. 21 to 23 in Toledo, Ohio.
Freshman outside hitter Skyler Erickson leads the Raiders in kills with 463, followed by freshman Megan Anderson (375) and sophomores Kaitlyn Ernst (321) and Morgan Heise (312). Setter Brooke Robertson has 1,520 assists and libero Molly Gotschall has 537 digs.
» Fans are encouraged to wear blue for seventh-ranked UNK’s final home volleyball match at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Washburn.
The Lopers (26-3, 12-2) are riding an eight-match win streak. One of those losses was to No. 11 Washburn (28-4, 13-1).
To win the MIAA regular-season title, the Lopers need to beat Washburn and No. 5 Central Missouri (27-1, 13-1) Friday in Warrensburg, Mo.
» Omaha Mercy’s Bridget Blessie is part of the College of St. Rose soccer team (19-0-2) that won the Northeast-10 championship. Her Elite Girls Academy teammate, Sidni Trotter of Bellevue East, won a Northern Sun title with Minnesota State (17-2-2). Both are in Division II.
» Forward Charlie Wallrapp has reached 1,001 points for Benedictine College.
Wallrapp, a graduate of Omaha Skutt, reached the milestone over the weekend in wins at the Doane College Classic.
“Charlie Wallrapp has worked as hard as any player I have coached to make himself a better player in the last three years,” Benedictine coach Ryan Moody said.
» Quarterback Tyler Audsley, who missed Peru State’s 35-27 loss to Evangel with a knee sprain, is expected to be back for Saturday’s game against Baker, Kan.
» Tyler Francis tied his school record with 28 completions as he passed for a career-high 359 yards to lead Nebraska Wesleyan to a 37-7 victory over Midland. He has 180 completions for the season, which also ties the school record.
» Northwest Missouri State defensive end Matt Longacre was named the MIAA defensive athlete of the week. The Millard West graduate had 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles in the Bearcats’ 48-21 win over Emporia State as Northwest clinched a share of the league title.