NORTHFIELD, Minn. — Blake Willadsen led the men's cross country team to a 13th-place finish Saturday at the NCAA Central Region Championships, tying for the second-best finish for the Storm since 1996.
A senior, Willadsen was the Storm's top runner at the regional meet for the second year in a row as the Storm matched their finish from 2015. Simpson placed 11th in the region in 2011, the only time they've placed higher in the last 20 years.
Willadsen ran his fastest 8k of the season, navigating the course at Carleton College in 26:28.5 to place 46th of 207 finishers. Senior Ethan Pellegrino followed up his team-leading effort at the Iowa Conference Championship with another solid performance, placing 69th for the best regional finish of his career.
Sophomore Trey Thompson crossed the finish line less than a second behind Pellegrino, placing 70th overall for a 15-place improvement from his freshman season. Ian McKenzie came in 85th and a pair of freshmen -- Levi Lefebure and Luke Evans -- placed 103rd and 123rd, respectively. Logan Egeland rounded out Simpson's finishers with 127th-place finish.
Four of the top five teams in the region came out of the competitive Iowa Conference. Loras won the Central Region Championship with 101 points, followed by Wartburg with 117. Nebraska Wesleyan placed fourth and Luther placed fifth.
46. Blake Willadsen—26:28.5
69. Ethan Pellegrino—26:48.6
70. Trey Thompson—26:49.3
85. Ian McKenzie—27:05.9
103. Levi Lefebure—27:22.2
123. Luke Evans—27:47.6
127. Logan Egeland—27:55.2