Cedar Rapids, IA: Two Alice Lloyd College Eagle cross country runners made history this week as they traveled to Iowa on Friday, April 9th, to race as individual qualifiers in the NAIA National Cross-Country Championships, hosted by Mount Mercy University.
Senior Ryan Morris (Dryden, VA) and freshman Anthony Hidalgo (Bronx, NY, Cordia High School) both qualified for the nationals by finishing in the top 10 of the River States Conference Cross Country Tournament that was held in November 2020. The national championship was originally scheduled to take place that same month, but due to Covid, the NAIA elected to move the completion until the Spring, 2021.
Unfortunately, this unexpected delay made the task even more daunting as the two speedsters had to basically train on their own with no competitions available to keep them in top-race form. Despite this difficulty, the Caney Creek Cross Country duo made a solid showing.
At the gun, 317 of the best runners nationwide took to the trail for the 8K event. The overall winner was Zouhair Talbi, of Oklahoma City (OK) who torched the course in an incredible time of 23:45.15. He bested the second-place finisher by over twenty seconds.
However, the Eagle runners would make a great showing of their own. Morris, the current school record holder in the 8K, would finish the event in a very impressive time of 27:20.40 to finish in 193rd position. Hidalgo also ran a solid race, as the rookie crossed the finish line in 28:07.03. This earned him the 255th position.
The best news is that both runners will return next season, and will be among the early favorites to bring home the overall victory in the River States Conference championships next fall.