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The La Grande Observer 12/15/14

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Home arrow Sports arrow Columns arrow VIEWPOINT:EOU coach Ben Welch notes team performance at nationals

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VIEWPOINT:EOU coach Ben Welch notes team performance at nationals

Competing in pretty decent but muddy conditions (Saturday) at Fort Vancouver Park in Vancouver Wash., the Mounties of EOU had a very strong showing.

The lone female for EOU was Karlee Coffey and what a day she had. Twelfth in 2009, Coffey came in gunning for a top-five finish. Positioning herself well early, she ran to a school record high second place. The previous best for an EOU woman at an NAIA Cross Country Championship was Abby Peters’ eighth-place finish in 1998 (Rhonda Burnett finished fourth at the old AIAW Div. 2 meet in 1979).

Running near the front the entire race,  Coffey was the only athlete in the field of over 300 athletes to challenge the defending Champion Justine Mudy of Shorter. Mudy broke away mid race with Coffey in hot pursuit. With about 800 to go, Coffey reeled Mudy in and actually moved into the lead for about 400 meters before Mudy got by her to defend her crown.

On the men's side, as he has done all season, Flores led the men. This time his patient, come-from-behind charge into fifth place led the 10th ranked men to a matching fifth place finish. Both Flores and the men notched the second-highest finish in EOU history. Only NAIA and EOU Hall of Fame Member Don Stearns (second in 1982) and the second place team in 2002 have finished higher.

Running in about 40th at the end of the first of four 2000 meter laps, Flores began to work his way up. After a big push on Lap 3 he moved into about 20th and continued to reel people in. Among those he reeled in over the final 400 meters was the 2009 National Champion from Oklahoma Christian.

As he did last year, Forrest Lumpry crossed the line second for EOU. While he ran virtually the same time as last year, he finished six places back (39th overall this year, 33rd last year). Lumpry was followed across the line by fellow senior Justin Dean who moved up from 197 last year to 91st overall this year. A fast closing Ryan Booth was next for the Mounties in 104th (about 60 places better than in 2009). Terry Johnsen and Isaac Updike were next in 123rd and 124th overall (about a 30- place improvement for Johnsen and fine first Nationals race for the freshman Updike). Kody Coxen rounded out the EOU squad in 181st. Overall a very satisfying performance.

-Ben Welch

 

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