The University of Mary women's cross country team went into the NCAA D-II national championships undefeated.
The Marauders nearly left Pittsburgh, Penn., the same way.
For the second year in a row at nationals, head coach Dennis Newell's team turned in a stellar performance, taking second-place behind only Grand Valley State of Michigan.
Five of the seven Marauders who ran the race earned All-American honors and a sixth came really close.
"I thought we ran the best possible race we could have. I could not have asked for any more from our team as a whole," Newell said. "Grand Valley was the best team today. I can accept that. We're really proud of our team and the effort they gave."
Senior Emily Roberts capped her one year in the orange and blue with a sparkling third-place finish, capturing All-American honors for the third time. Roberts finished in a time of 22:15.5.
"Emily's looked so good the last six weeks. I don't think anybody was surprised at all," Newell said. "She has been a tremendous addition to our team."
Junior Ida Narbuvoll (22:59.8) and senior Jaiden Schuette (23:07) placed 12th and 15th, respectively, earning All-Americans for the second time each.
Freshman Taylor Hestekin, who came to U-Mary as an 800-meter runner, placed 29th to earn All-American recognition in just her sixth ever cross country meet.
"She did it on the sloppiest, muddiest, nastiest, truest cross country course you'll ever find," Newell said of the Bowman, N.D., product. "She really stepped up. What a future she has in front of her."
Sophomore Bree Erickson earned the final All-American position by placing 40th overall (23:33.11). Sophomore Lacey Feist-Young, a sophomore from Bowman, finished just six places out of All-American territory.
"We had a couple girls not have fantastic days but we had five of seven women have pretty great days and coming to a national meet you can't ask for much more than that," Newell said.
In the final team standings, Grand Valley pulled away with a total of 41 to the Marauders' 83. Adams State (90) and Western Colorado (98) -- ranked No. 1 and 2 in the country -- placed third and fourth.
A welcome-home celebration is planned for the Marauders on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Bismarck Airport. Free parking is available in short-term parking lot.
"We've had so much support. You can really feel it," Newell said. "From the fans, the university, the administration, the professors. We're very grateful for the support and it's important that they understand they all are a part of this."