The North Central College men’s cross country team finished the season with its 17th NCAA Division III national title, winning the championship by the largest margin in DIII history.
The Cardinals finished the race with 60 points, coming in first place out of 32 teams. The State University of New York at Geneseo placed second overall, ending with a total of 204 points: a 144 point differential between the first and second place teams.
The North Central runners were confident throughout the race. “During the race it was an odd feeling because I felt like I could slow everything down around me; I was comfortable,” says Ethan Adlfinger. “I could look around and see large groups of our spectators getting more and more excited during the race. Being able to cross the line and instantly know the outcome is one of the greatest feelings in the world.”
One Cardinal had the luxury of watching his teammates finish soon after him. “I turned around and saw four striped uniforms come in one right after the other and I knew we won,” says Zack Plank. “I had no control over my emotions and I just screamed. It was such an incredible feeling that I’ve never experienced and I’m so grateful to feel it with these men.”
After the team’s second national championship in three seasons, some are left speechless. “Words can’t describe the feeling of finishing side by side with Ethan and Dhruvil,” says Al Baldonado. “We demonstrated today just how powerful a connected team can be.”
Overall, the team enjoyed the ride, but the win definitely added to that enjoyment. “I’d just say that what happened today, win or lose, was a culmination of so much hard work by so many people that it was going to be a positive experience no matter what,” says Dan O’Keefe. “But winning was just the cherry on top of everything and something I’ll always remember.”
For much of the season, the Cardinals men’s cross country team was ranked first in the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll, and today they finished on top.