Small College Sports

Seminole Valley, Mount Mercy hosting NAIA cross country

National championships are Friday on Cedar Rapids course

Runners compete at the Seminole Valley Cross Country Course. (The Gazette)
Runners compete at the Seminole Valley Cross Country Course. (The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Roughly a month ago, Mount Mercy’s home cross country course, Seminole Valley Park, was flooded.

Friday, Seminole Valley Park will host the 63rd annual NAIA men’s and 39th annual women’s national cross country championships.

“We had two significant meets at Seminole Valley that were canceled or relocated,” Mount Mercy head cross country coach Jamie Jimison said. “The GO Cedar Rapids Preview was canceled and we moved another meet later in October to Noelridge. But the water has receded and the course has dried out.

“It will run fast and produce some top level times.”

Jimison and his staff are thrilled to be hosting a meet of such magnitude. It took a lot of work and volunteers to assure the course would be ready for the meet.

“A lot of work had to be done smoothing out the areas, getting the footing smooth,” he said. “We wanted to make sure it was worthy of a championship level. The route is a little adjusted but not out of our comfort zone.”

Former Mount Mercy track and cross country coach Ryan Scheckel has been serving as a director for the meet and is excited about giving back to university.

“I think the university is excited, there has been a lot of alumni back,” said Scheckel, a 2018 Mount Mercy Hall of Fame inductee. “It’s good for the city to be able to showcase what we have been doing. I love Mount Mercy and it was something I really wanted to see through and give back.

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“We have learned a lot and I think we are doing a great job putting it all together. We will be interested in what the other coaches think.”

Jimison is not only ready to host but also ready to show what Mount Mercy can do on a national stage.

“I don’t think the runners fully grasped the significance until they went to the course and saw the all of the others teams,” Jimison said. “We are going to do our best to defend our house and show we can compete.”

Oklahoma City is the top-ranked men’s team, followed by St. Francis (Ill.) and College of Idaho. Oregon Tech is ranked No. 1 in the women’s race. followed by SCAD Atlanta and Taylor (Ind.).

The meet is Friday, starting with the women’s 5K race at 10:30 a.m. The men’s 8K starts at 11:30 a.m.

l Comments: peter.brooks@thegazette.com

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