PORTLAND, Ore. — The Bismarck cross country team got stuck in the mud Saturday at the Nike Cross Country Nationals.
The course at Portland (Ore.) Meadows was soaked by nine inches of rain over the last two weeks, resulting in swampy conditions.
Bismarck, ranked 12th in the country, struggled to adjust and finished 17th.
“It was definitely the worst conditions we’ve run in,” said co-coach Darrell Anderson. “There was four to six inches of solid mud the entire way, but it was the same for everybody. We make no excuses.
“... It wasn’t cross country. It was motocross.”
Jake Leingang, fresh off a victory at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional last week, finished 59th. Last year Leingang placed eighth at the Nike national meet.
Sam Wharton, who Leingang nipped at the wire at the Foot Locker regional, was the overall winner, covering the 5,000-meter course in 17:06. Leingang finished in 18:14, which was 3:18 slower than his winning time a week ago.
That wasn’t atypical. Anderson said no athletes ranked in the top 20 were in the mix.
“It happens to some of the greatest runners,” Anderson said. “The mud just got us out of our rhythm, particularly Jake.”
Lane Kashur was Bismarck’s next finisher, crossing the line in 18:50, good for 110th place. Preston Lerew was 123rd (18:58), Dylan Werner 140th (19:12), Brandon Berg 145th (19:19), Logan Fischer 186th (20:17) and Matt Gotta 189th (20:19).
Bismarck finished with 393 points in its first appearance as a team.
“We’re looking at the positive,” Anderson said. “It’s tremendously difficult to make it to this meet. We were proud to represent the Heartland Region and to finish 17th in the country. That’s quite an accomplishment.”