The GU Cross Country team just came off an impressive finish for the Bradley Classic. The Bradley Classic had 11 very competitive teams, and GU’s team placed 6th overall for the men’s race and 8th for the women’s race. For the men’s team, Dylan Goodyear and Dylon Niswonger led the team placing 8th and 33rd, respectively. GU also had Collin Kessinger and Kaleb Carlson place 38th and 52nd respectively to help the Panthers place 6th amongst some very talented teams including Eastern Illinois, Millikin, Loyola (Ill.), South Dakota, UNA, and Marquette at this illustrious meet in Peoria, Illinois. For this year’s team, this is their third time being in the top 10 in their meets and Brian Patton couldn’t be happier. “8.8 out of a 10,” says Brian Patton. “We had several run fastest time on this course and most all ran faster than they have throughout the season on the most difficult course we have run on yet.”
For the women’s Cross Country team, they were led by Hannah Williams who placed 33rd and Kori Nesbit who placed 40th. During this meet, GU had three runners finish above 55th; these ladies are Victoria Dyson, Emma Leonhard, and Sabrina Favela. “8.8 out of 10 as well for the women.” Coach Patton has been proud of his teams this year and is ready to see how they will do for the rest of the year.
Right now, GU’s Cross Country team is missing two of their biggest contenders, Garret Johnson and Ashleigh Brubaker. Coach Patton explains, “We will be missing a potential scorer on each team with the absence of Garret Johnson and Ashleigh Brubaker. However, I think we are ready from a training standpoint. It will be up to the runners to run free and enjoy themselves. If we run like we have the last couple meets, I think we will fair quite well.” Having their coach’s confidence in them, despite having two of their most important runners gone, means a lot for the other runners on the team.
Dylon Niswonger is a senior from Wallace, Kansas and has been doing really well as a leader and runner for the GU Cross Country team this year. “I grew up Free Methodist so I had always known of Greenville,” said Niswonger. “I ultimately made my selection because I was recruited by Coach Patton.” Niswonger wants his senior year to be like the three years before. “As a senior, I’ve recognized the value in competing. My days here are numbered so I’m just trying to run as fast and soak up as much fun with my teammates as I can.” During the Bradley Classic, Niswonger did amazing. “At Bradley, I ran my 2nd fastest 8K of my career,” said Niswonger. “I would say I’m thankful for how to race went down. I hope to run much faster before the season is over.”
When asked if Niswonger could change anything about this year, he stated, “No, I wouldn’t change anything from this year. I’ve had a great time and lots of fun. There is only so much we can do to get better, and running isn’t everything; really just been a lot of fun.” Greenville changes a lot of lives and Niswonger is no different. “God has blessed me with friends and experiences through GU athletics that I would not have had otherwise. This team has unknowingly done a lot for me spiritually. The relationships I’ve picked through this team are by far the greatest blessing I’ve picked up through my time here at GU.”
The GU Cross Country team has only four meets left. These include the SLIAC Championships, Panther Trials, NCAA Regional Championships, and NCAA National Championships.
Make sure you watch for updates on the team, wish them luck, and cheer them on in the next four weeks to show our GU Cross Country team that the whole school and community is behind them with their toughest schedule right now in their season.
Media by Ryan Taylor.