All-IIAC Performer Ortiz Leads Spartans to Fifth Place Finish at Championships

Nov 1, 2014

INDIANOLA, Iowa - The University of Dubuque women's cross country were led by sixth place finishing and an All-Iowa Conference Performer, Fabiola Ortiz (23:18) at the 2014 Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) Cross Country Championships at Pickard Park in Indianola, Iowa.

Luther's Tricia Serres successfully defended her individual title, crushing the field by over one minute, but it was Wartburg that dominated the team race. The Knights placed their seven scoring runners in the top 13 overall for 28 points and captured nine of the 15 all-conference honorees to outdistance Luther, 28-46. Loras (88) was third, followed by Central (110), Dubuque (139), Simpson (150), Coe (208) and Buena Vista (258). It is Wartburg's 15th title overall, fourth in a row and sixth in seven years.
Every team managed to brave the cold and the rolling hills of restless Pickard Park nestled in the outskirts of Indianola, Iowa. It was Pickard’s first time hosting the IIAC Championships since 2003.

UD bested their 180 point, 7th place performance from a year ago and showed marked improvement. They matched their best overall performance set in 2012 when they also finished 5th with 159 points.

UD's Fabiola Ortiz (23:18.0) took sixth and was the highest-finishing Spartan since Lisa Demerath took second in 2000. Ortiz and Demerath are the only two First Team All-IIAC honorees in UD history and are joined by Melissa Maestri (13th place, 2003) and Caroline Zelent (14th place, 2005) as the only All-IIAC performers overall. Her First Team All-IIAC performance should come as no surprise after a consistent season on a multitude of varying courses. Her 6k times have only wavered 19 seconds (23:05-23:24) in five of her six total races.
She has improved by leaps and bounds after besting her times on the same courses in three different meets from a year ago by at least 1:58 in each. She also dropped her time by 1:04 at this year's Loras Invitational after setting her former personal best (24:28) at the same course in 2013. Ortiz looks to continue her sophomore success in the upcoming NCAA Division III Central Regional Championships* in Pella, Iowa on November 15th, hosted by Central College. The Kuyper Athletic Complex is nothing new to Ortiz after she was clocked in 24:46 at last year's Regional meet and 23:54 earlier this year at the Dutch Invitational. 

Backing up Ortiz was Brenda Nava (36th overall, 24:48), Rachael Busjahn (41st, 24:51), freshman Sybbie Sears (65th, 25:47), freshman Kristin Mackenburg (66th, 25:48), Kiersten Wenthold (72nd, 26:05), and freshman Skylar Brooks (73rd, 26:07).

Assistant coach Geoff Gundlach applauded his team's toughness and improved finish.

"The women were very aggressive early and it made them work extremely hard in the latter miles to hang on. They all are tough ladies and earned as solid a team finish as we have ever had at the IIAC meet. It is a great group and our staff is very, very proud of them," said Gundlach.

Head Coach Chad Gunnelson shared Gundlach’s sentiment and sees a bright future on the horizon.

“We talked a lot this weekend with the team about perspective. They are in the best shape of their lives and accomplishing more than they've ever done before and more than this program has ever done. Today shouldn't have been any different. And it wasn't. They competed well. We are very proud of each and every one of our Spartans,” said Coach Gunnelson.

All eight schools take next weekend off before reconvening in Pella on November 15 for the NCAA Division III Central Region Championships* on Central's on-campus course at the Kuyper Athletic Complex. 

*NATIONAL QUALIFYING: The Regional meet is one of eight regionals taking place across the country. The top two teams from each region automatically qualify for the National meet with 16 at-large teams to be determined later for a total of 32 teams. After teams have been determined, 56 additional individuals per gender are selected to compete at the NCAA Championships. From those teams NOT selected in the above process, the top seven finishers at each regional are automatically selected.

Complete Results