Central’s Fairley, Rathje qualify for national cross country meet

Central Dutch Athletics

Central Dutch Athletics

NORTHFIELD, MINN. — Central College seniors Mark Fairley (Dubuque) and Tanner Rathje (Marion, Linn-Mar HS) weren’t ready for their cross country careers to come to an end Saturday at the NCAA Division III Central Regional.

Fairley became the third Dutch runner in the five years to win the regional race. With the win Fairley earns a spot at the NCAA Division III Championship meet. Rathje will join Fairley at the national meet after finishing in 11th place. Fairley finished the 8,000-meter race in 24 minutes, 52.9 seconds. Rathje was just 40 seconds behind Fairley with 25:33.6.

“Today was a good day for our men’s program,” said coach Joe Dunham. “Anytime you have a regional champion it’s a great day but to also have Tanner qualify for nationals was great.”

As a team Central finished ninth in the 29-team meet with 261 points. Loras College won the meet with 53 points and Carleton College (Minn.) was runner-up with 67 points.

Juniors Jordan Toomey (Runnells, Southeast Polk HS) ran a career best 26:30.9 to finish 63rd.

Sophomore Preston Kizer (Dubuque) knocked over a minute off his previous personal record to finish 89th 26:53.3.

Senior Taylor Donner (Dubuque) ran his final race for the Dutch in 26:57.5 just edging junior teammate Kyle Pape (Dubuque, Wahlert HS) for 97th. Pape finished with an identical 26:57.5 just two seconds off his personal best.

Freshman Nathan Sanders (Waukee) placed 124th with 27:35.0.

Fairley and Rathje look to continue their momentum Saturday at the national meet in Alton, Ill. Fairley will compete at the national race for the fourth time in his career.

Although the team will not advance, Dunham was pleased with the squad’s effort.

“I was proud of our guys today,” he said. “We’ve battled through injuries all year and I was happy with how our guys performed.”

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