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Kaskaskia College’s Blue Angels, Blue Devils cross country teams earn national pre-season ranking

National poll ranks men’s team as #22, women’s team as #21

Kaskaskia College recently announced that both its women’s and men’s cross country teams have received national rankings from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

The women’s team earned a #21 ranking in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II and the men’s team received a #22 ranking in their respective national coaches poll. Cross Country Head Coach Mike Hargis said the rankings reflect both teams’ hard work and the right combination of new and returning runners.

“We are very excited with our pre-season ranking with both the men and the women’s team,” said Hargis. “This is a testament to the past success of the program and the steps forward we have been able to make. The ranking is based on the returners to the team, and we have a very solid base with Nick Fehr of Red Bud and Nick Zwilling of Newton, and Christian Rees of Steelville. All three were in our top seven last year. We are also looking for big improvements with Ostin Habek of Nashville. Then, mix in freshmen Daniel Obernuefemann of Freeburg High School and Jack Shelton and Owen Huelsmann of Mater Dei High School; this gives us a great core group.

“On the women’s side, Grace Lauer of New Athens and Brooklyn McAllister of Wesclin High School are the main returners and both have looked strong during pre-season,” Hargis said further. “Newcomers Macey Lentz of Carterville and Raelyn Dearing of Centralia add some depth at the front of the pack. Also, add Simone Liefer of Red Bud and the experience of Gracee Kelly of Centralia and the team could be very solid. The early season work has been positive, and the attitudes are good, but we realize this is pre-season ranking, so we will have to prove ourselves on race day to maintain our NJCAA DII ranking through the season. Our goals are to be prime to race at the National meet in Huntsville, Alabama, in November.”

The men’s team consists of Nick Fehr, Connor Garsnett, Caleb Locke, Tejas Zala, Nick Zwilling, Christian Rees, Ostin Habek, Daniel Obernuefemann, Jack Shelton and Owen Huelsmann.  The women’s team consists of Grace Lauer, Brooklyn McAllister, Macey Lentz, Raelyn Dearing, Simone Liefer and Gracee Kelly.

“Coach Hargis does a great job coaching our Cross-Country teams,” said Kaskaskia College Athletic Director Scott Steward. “The number of miles they run in all types of weather prepares them well for major meets, especially when it comes to the Nationals Meet at the conclusion of their season.  We are proud of our runners and coaches.”

USTFCCCA represents cross country and track & field coaches of all levels including D1, DII, DII, and members representing the NAIA and NJCAA along with high school coach associations. The non-profit organization puts together a National Coaches Poll every week of the season until Nov. 18, 2023.

Kaskaskia College is a public community college in Centralia, Ill., within South Central Illinois District 501 serving all or part of nine counties including Bond, Clinton, Fayette, Marion, Washington, Jefferson, St. Clair, Madison and Montgomery. Committed to making education accessible, they host the Crisp Technology Center in Centralia, and also have education centers in Greenville, Nashville, Salem, Trenton and Vandalia, Ill. The school, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, offers a broad spectrum of degrees, programs and certification options, specializing in 2-year associates degrees and trade school programs. Founded in 1940, Kaskaskia College was the first Class I Community College established in the State of Illinois.

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