Tradition of Excellence: 1990 Men’s Cross Country Qualifies for First NCAA Meet

Posted on April 30th, 2020 by

An unnamed Gustie runs up the Hwy. 99 hill east of Saint Peter while teammates follow behind.

In the absence of sports for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year, Gustavus sports information will provide a series of stories to take a look back at great moments in Golden Gustie athletics history, celebrating its proud tradition of excellence.

Miller Wins 1990 MIAC Crown, Men’s Cross Country Qualifies for First NCAA Meet

By Tim Kennedy, Gustavus Sports Information Director

October 29, 1990

Craig Miller

Craig Miller (Sr., Willmar) improved on his second place finish of a year ago and made Gustavus history as he became the school’s first ever MIAC individual champion in cross country at the conference meet on the Como Park golf course in St. Paul, Minn. Miller put on a furious kick and pulled away from the pack to complete the race :06 seconds ahead of second place finisher Chad Guerrero of St. Thomas. Miller’s performance gave the team a big lift and the Gusties surprised Coach Mahler finishing second in the team competition.

Keith Pilgrim (Sr., Mendota Heights/Sibley) finished in 10th place in 26:38.1, followed by Bob Klindworth (So., Lake City/Lincoln) 13th in 26:42.6, Mark Nordberg (So., Bloomington/Kennedy) 16th in 26:48.9, and Mike Nordberg (So., Bloomington/Kennedy) 22nd in 27:01.3. The team’s second place finish is the highest ever and also marks the first time Gustavus has beaten St. John’s, Coach Mahler’s alma mater.

Coach Mahler comments:

“I didn’t think we were this good yet. We have been pointing for the regional meet rather than conference this season, so the breakthrough is a little unexpected. It’s very exciting though, both for what we accomplished and for the confidence it gives us for regionals.

“Craig’s victory was moving for the whole team. He’s our team leader and the star we all cheer for. To see him win after falling short last year was thrilling for all of us. He made a strong move on the leaders with a mile to go and won going away.”

November 12, 1990

The cross country team achieved its season-long goal of qualifying for the NCAA Division III national meet, surpassing its own expectations and finished second to the University of St. Thomas as the central regional meet in Waverly, Iowa. This is the first time that a Gustavus cross country team has qualified to compete at the NCAA national meet.

The Gusties were again led by senior Craig Miller who finished in the fifth spot in a time of 25:43, 15 seconds behind champion Tony Every of Cornell College. The difference in this year’s team has been the depth of the runners behind Miller and that was in evidence again at Waverly as two other runners finished in the top-20. They were Keith Pilgrim, who finished 16th in 26:17 and Bob Klindworth, 19th in 26:19. Twins Mark and Mike Nordberg put on the finishing touches as Mike placed 41st in 26:43 and Mark was right behind finishing 42nd in 26:45. Hats off to Coach Mahler and the team as they have quietly made history at Gustavus.

November 19, 1990

Craig Miller made the most out of his final chance at the NCAA Division III National Cross Country Championship in Grinnell, Iowa as he finished in seventh place and earned All-America honors. He is the first Gustavus cross country runner to be named All-America. It was also a good day for the team as they finished in 14th place out of the 21 teams competing. Other finishes included Bob Klindworth 98th, Mark Nordberg 125th, Keith Pilgrim 130th, Jason Knudtson (Jr., Sioux Falls, S.D.) 144th, Mike Nordberg 154th, and Kevin Peyman (Jr., Fairmont) 164th.

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Previous “Tradition of Excellence” stories:

1987 Men’s Basketball Wins MIAC Playoffs

1985 Gymnastics Wins Division III National Championship

2009 Men’s Hockey Advances to NCAA Title Game

2015 Volleyball Wins 27 Straight

1971 Men’s Tennis Marks Coach Wilkinson’s First MIAC Title

Harren Captures 2005 NCAA Cross Country Title

1927 Baseball Claims First MIAC Championship

Women’s Hoops Upsets Host, Advances to 2018 NCAA Sweet 16

2005 Men’s Soccer Reaches NCAA Title Match

2009 Softball Makes Run at College World Series

Men’s Golf Wins 2004 National Championship

Women’s Hockey Takes Third at 2017 NCAA Tourney

War Vets Lead Football to 1946 MIAC Title

2007 Women’s Swim & Dive Cruises to MIAC Championship

Hensch Captures Grand Slam of Throws at 2019 MIAC Outdoor

1984 Women’s Soccer Wins First MIAC Title


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