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Belmont men’s and women’s cross-country makes mark on MVC Championship

From left to right, Kaitlyn Vanderkolk, Kevin Vanderkolk, Ethan Hammer and Katie Flaherty with their awards; Photo courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Competing in its first Missouri Valley Conference cross-country championship Friday morning, the Belmont men and women took to Terre Haute, Indiana with their eyes set on speedy finishes.

With that goal in mind, the men racked up 97 points to finish fourth overall while the women ended the day in second place with 78 points.

Beginning with the men’s eight-kilometer race, Kevin Vanderkolk led the way as he clocked-in at 24:23.5 and placed 10th overall, with fellow sophomore Ethan Hammer securing 14th place with a time of 25:58.6.

Overall, the men’s team finished with two more runners placing in the top-25 – sophomore Jacob Ricks finished 18th and Zac Shaffer secured 22nd place.

For the women’s six-kilometer championship race, the Bruins claimed second place as a team, just shy of Bradley University.

Sophomore Kaitlyn Vanderkolk led in seventh place with a time of 21:25.3.

Following five positions behind Vanderkolk, senior Katie Flaherty crossed the line with a time of 21:44.7.

Other top-25 finishers included junior Grace Litzinger in 16th, senior Lily Hallum in 20th and sophomore Brooke Stromsland in 23rd.

“I knew best case scenario we were going to get second,” coach Kate Bucknam said. “The fact that the girls executed the plan and got it done, I am super excited for them.”

Racking up impressive finishes and performances throughout the season, the Vanderkolk twins were named All-MVC First Team honors while Hammer and Flaherty both received All-Conference honorable mentions.

Kaitlyn Vanderkolk received the MVC Elite 17 Award – an award given to athletes with the highest academic achievement in women’s cross-country.

“You know, we switched conferences, we showed up today,” Kevin Vanderkolk said. “I think in the next year or two we’re going to be a really dominant force in this new conference.”

With both teams placed within the top-five in their respective races, they will head to the NCAA Regionals on Nov. 11 in Huntsville, Alabama.

This story was written by Seth Thorpe

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