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Minutes before the cannon boomed to start the National Junior College Athletic Association's national championship meet, held in Fort Dodge last Saturday, the Spartan men huddled for the final time in 2013 about 100 meters from the starting line.
"Remember our team rules — always do what is right, never what is wrong, do everything to the best of your ability and show people you really care," said SWCC Head Coach Bill Huntington from the middle of the huddle. "Let's be great Spartans."
In a field of 55 represented teams, the Southwestern Community College men finished 26th at the national championship meet, improving seven spots from the previous season.
Freshman Ben Friederichs led the squad, covering the 8K course in 28:12 and finished 114th out of the 298 runners.
Sophomores Gage Beers and Joe Bierl followed in 28:52 and 29:02 respectively.
"Ben and I being able to run together really made a difference in my race," Beers said. "I feel if he wouldn't have been there, I wouldn't have ran as well and he told me after the race I helped him, otherwise he wouldn't have ran as well as he did."
The stiff wind matched the stiff competition here Saturday as the Southwestern Community College Spartan men finished fourth at the Region XI meet.
The squad was led by freshman Ben Friederichs. He covered the 8K cross country course in 28:15, finishing 25th overall, earning a spot on the all-region honorable mention team.
"Ben really put together a complete race and earned an all-region spot," head coach Bill Huntington said. "It was a great opportunity for the guys to preview the national championship course and race against some of the best junior college teams in the nation."
Teammate Gage Beers finished in 28:20 and 29th place.
Ovan Garcia, Joe Bierl and Rayvonne Brown rounded out the scoring for the Spartan men, finishing with 121 points.
Iowa Central Community College won the meet with 16 points and is currently ranked fifth in the latest national poll. No. 19 North Iowa Area Community College upset No. 15 Iowa Western Community College for second and third in the team standings.
"I was proud of how our guys competed, but we are going to do everything we can over the next two weeks to prove we deserve a spot in the polls with teams like Iowa Central, NIACC and Iowa Western," Huntington said.
Conditions were less than ideal when the Southwestern Community College Spartans reached the University of Arkansas agricultural site here Saturday morning for the Chile Pepper Festival cross country race.
After arriving at the race site, lightning pushed back the start of the race more than 90 minutes and a constant downpour created a flash flood on parts of the course.
"The conditions were less than ideal for personal best times, but everybody had to run in it," head coach Bill Huntington said. "Our guys and ladies had a great attitude and used the poor conditions to their advantage against some tough Division I competition."
When the Spartan men finally were able to toe the line, just to their left was Baylor University and the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University were to their right.
The Southwestern Community College men's cross country team jumped back into the top 25 poll after its performance at the Viking Invitational on Sept. 20.
The Spartans trailed North Iowa Area Community College by a mere three points in the team standings. NIACC was ranked No. 16 at the time of the race.
Freshman Aaron Ward continued to pace the Spartans, finishing the 8K course in 28:51. He placed 37th overall.
Former Clarke Indian standouts Gage Beers and Chasen Selsor crossed the line in 29:13 and 29:19 respectfully.
Ben Friederichs and Rayvonne Brown rounded out the scoring for the Spartans. The team's spread was only 44 seconds for the top five.
"I was really impressed by how we worked to pass people after the 6,000-meter mark," head coach Bill Huntington said. "It was probably the tightest pack we have ever had."