Nov. 20, 2010

Nick Finch, Special to

WAVERLY, Iowa - With the top finisher leading the way, the Haverford (Pa.) College Fords eclipsed one of the most storied Division III cross country programs to capture the school's first NCAA team title.

Haverford senior Anders Hulleberg won the individual race with a time of 24:22.2. Yet North Central (Ill.) College came into the NCAA Division III Cross Country championships at Wartburg College as the defending champions and also the nation's top-ranked team.

"The reason we did it was because of the respect we had for them," said Haverford College head coach Tom Donnelly about North Central. "They had the best program, the best coach in the history of cross country in the United States. That's no exaggeration. We had so much respect for them and, for once, we were able to measure up to them."

Thanks in large part to Hulleberg individual first, Haverford placed No. 1 as a team with 87 points. North Central followed at 104. St. Lawrence (N.Y.) benefitted from senior Steve Kiplagat's fourth-place finish to take third place at 137. Wisconsin-Platteville was fourth (198) and Dickinson (Pa.) captured fifth (204).

Haverford's team, after Hulleburg's win, was backed up with senior Chris Southwick (16th), senior Lucas Fuentes (18th), sophomore Jordan Schilit (25th), junior Eric Arnold (27th), senior Joseph Carpenter (48th) and junior Tim Schoch (71st).

Wisconsin-Stevens Point, SUNY Geneseo, Calvin, Washington (Mo.) and New York University closed out the top ten.

Haverford's highest team finish had been taking second back in 2007.

"It's incredible," said Carpenter. "We raced our (tails) off. I'm so proud of our teammates. It's been a goal for so long, for so many guys in the graduating class."

Haverford came into the nationals off a very solid showing in the Mideast Regionals, winning easily as Hulleberg, Fuentes, Arnold, Southwick, Schilit, Schoch and Carpenter each finished in the Top 15.

After the Fords' national title win on Saturday, the overwheming joy and loud celebration from the Haverford runners and their fans stood in a sharp contrast to the muted disappointment from North Central. The Cardinals have won 13 team titles.

North Central head coach Al Carius, who has been with the program since 1966, admitted his team was ready but simply ran into a strong squad in Haverford.

We had a shot to win it and we did not beat ourselves today," said Carius. "We got beat by a better team. Haverford is a great, great team and very well coached."

Carius also said his 2010 squad surprised him as they came into the season with so many new faces.

"With our group today, we battled, we did the best we could and I'm proud of the way we've developed the entire year," Carius said. "When we started the year, we had two people back from our top 15. We thought it would be a tremendous rebuilding year. What they have done in a very short time is improve."

Carius also noted the tight finish at the front, with the top four runners finishing within three seconds of each other.

"It was a great, great meet," said Carius. "We knew Haverford was a great team and a very well-coached team with Tom Donnelly. It couldn't happen to a more deserving coach or team."