Men's cross country knocks off regionally-ranked foe at Brissman/Lundeen

Ethan Pellegrino
Ethan Pellegrino

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – Behind a condensed group of front-runners, the Simpson men's cross country team ran to a 16th-place finish at one of the largest races in the country Friday night.

Led by sophomores Ethan Pellegrino and Blake Willadsen, Simpson scored 508 points in the 39-team Brissman/Lundeen Invitational, beating regionally-ranked Grinnell in the process.

Pellegrino completed the 8-kilometer course at Saukie Golf Course in 26:57.1 to place 93rd. A late-charging Willadsen came in 94th, crossing the finish line in 26:57.2.

"Tonight was an outstanding team performance for the men," head coach Heath Moenck said. "Knocking off a regionally-ranked team was a huge breakthrough for the program.

"The exciting part is, we are far from a finished product."

The field included teams from NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA and the NJCAA.

The University of Chicago won the meet with 74 points, followed by Ferris State University (77) and Olivet Nazarene. Simpson scored 508 points, 13 points ahead of Grinnell (521), who was ranked No. 8 in the most recent USTFCCCA Regional Poll.

Nick Yaeger (111th, 27:08.1), Andrew Mayes (159th, 27:41.0), Henry Oberman (203rd, 28:10.1), Ian McKenzie (261st, 28:57.9) and Miles Kirts (265th, 28:59.9) rounded out Simpson's varsity finishers.

Simpson returns to action next Saturday at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville, Ark.