University of Minnesota, Morris cross country runner Linda Keller capped off an extraordinary first year by winning the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference women's championship.
Keller was nearly unbeatable all season long, cruising to wins in all her races, but the massive Roy Griak Invitational, in which she placed fifth, the highest placing ever for a UMAC runner.
This week in St. Bonifacius, Keller ran a 23:04 for 6k and finished 14 seconds ahead of last year's UMAC champion, Katelyn Meger of St. Scholastica.
Head coach Jeremy Karger said Keller ran a smart, conservative race.
"The trail was wet, muddy and difficult. [Linda] let Meger lead for half the race and then made her move," said Karger. "That was sort of it."
Keller was characteristically underwhelmed by her victory and gracious to all her competitors.
"After the race, she turned around at the end of the gate," Karger explained, "... and she shook hands and congratulated every woman runner who finished. Not just her teammates. Every woman runner. That's just the kind of person she is."
On the strength of Keller's finish, the Cougar women finished second in the team standings.
On the men's side, juniors Luke Toso and Andrew Rehmann finished in the top 12 to boost the Cougars into a third-place team finish, one better than their 2008 performance.
This weekend the Cougars travel to Grinnell, Iowa for the NCAA regional cross-country meet.
UMAC Cross Country Championships
Women's Individual 6k
1. Linda Keller (FY) 23:04 (all-UMAC team)
15. Katie Schneiderman (JR) 25:50
21. Debbie Schneiderman (JR) 26:30
25. Gemma Miltich (SO) 26:53
27. Kacy Nehowig (JR) 26:58
32. Cristina Montanez (SO) 27:06
37. Kate Campbell (FY) 27:26
40. Emily Lawrence (FY) 27:38
49. Melissa Kloek (JR) 28:50
53. Caitlin Percy (JR) 29:25
57. Mallory King (JR) 29:43
59. Katie Saddison (SO) 29:54
60. Sonja Smidt (SO) 30:03
67. Kaia Jans (SR) 30:42
77. Darla Stevens (JR) 31:16
82. Becca Baldridge (JR) 32:14
Men's Individual 8k
11. Andrew Rehmann (JR) 28:32 (all-UMAC team)
12. Luke Toso (JR) 28:39 (all-UMAC team)
14. Matt Ellison (SO) 29:16
15. Ian Philbrick (JR) 29:20
26. Greg Schumacher (SO) 30:31
30. Nick Fox (FY) 30:40
34. Jacob Von Rentzell (FY) 30:50
49. Denver Rogalla (SO) 32:20
52. David Sampers (SO) 32:27
54. John Jones (JR) 33:00
55. Dugan Flanders (JR) 33:03
64. Mike Unger (FY) 34:19
72. Zach Smith (SO) 35:12