St. Peter, Minn. – In front of one of the largest crowds since the inception of the Gustie Invite/Alumni Meet, senior Joe Renier (Cambridge, Minn.) and 2011 graduate Nick Ross gave the fans a finish that was worthy of the friendly rivalry that has bee built between the current Gusties and the former student-athletes who make up the Alumni Team.
With less than 200 meters left in the race, Renier, who had kept within striking distance of the leader for the entire race, decided to kick it in down and make one last push for the finish line. The move paid off and the senior surprised Ross by catching him with just 10 meters to go. Renier carried the momentum across the finish line to come away with the victory by just 1.5 seconds over his former teammate.
“I know Nick and always joke with him that he doesn’t have the fastest kick. Before the race I told him that I had the wheels and that I was going to burn him,” said a smiling Joe Renier following the race. “With about 10 meters to go I decided to give it everything I had – what a great finish and what a great race.”
Renier crossed the finish line in 16:45.4, and Ross came across next in 16:46.9. The Gustavus Alumni came away with the victory at the end of the day with 21 points. The current Gusties finished second with 34 points, and Bethany Lutheran College placed third with 84 points.
Bahr said that today’s finish was about as exciting as one can expect from a meet such as this. “Last year we had four alums cross the finish line holding hands as sort of a friendly in-your-face to our varsity,” laughed Head Coach Dale Bahr. “Our alumni are very strong and year-after-year they come back fired up for this race. That little rivalry builds over the year and it seemed to fire our guys up. Today Joe took it to heart and it showed down the stretch. To take one of our current athletes and put him front of our top alumni shows how far this men’s team has come in a year.”
Behind Ross finished three more former Gusties. John Leaf led the group of graduates in third (16:50.6), Anders Bowman finished fourth (17:01.6), and James Sorenson placed fifth (17:13.4). Dimitri Drekonja also cracked the top 10 with a seventh place finish (17:40.6).
Rounding out the top 10 was Evan Jones (Fr., Pella, Iowa) in sixth with a time of 17:37.6, Matt Carlson in eighth in 17:45.7, Thomas Knobbe (Fr., West Des Moines, Iowa) in ninth in 17:48.7, and Nate Hanson (So., Stillwater, Minn.) in 10th in 17:51.0.
Coach Bahr praised the hard work of his current team over the summer and in training camp. “To see our guys put in the work over the summer and come into camp in shape was great to see and it showed today,” commented Bahr. “Today marks a turn in the program not only for our current athletes but for alumni as well. The support from the alumni is really what fuels these teams and it was great to have such a great crowd at the course this morning.”
The Gustavus cross country teams will be in action next Saturday, Sept. 7 when they travel to Collegeville, Minn. to take part in the Saint John’s/Saint Ben’s Invitational set to begin at 10:30 a.m.