Wartburg’s women’s cross country team needed a leader, and head coach Steve Johnson knew it.
With top runner Alana Enabnit out with a stress fracture mid-season, Johnson challenged Serena Goetzl to be that person.
She responded, leading the 34th-ranked Knights to a fourth consecutive Iowa Conference champoinship with a runner-up individual finish Saturday in Indianola.
“She panicked a little bit at first (when I challenged her), but thought about it a couple days and really has grabbed a hold of that,” Johnson said.
Three Wartburg runners placed in the top five, six in the top 10 and nine earned all-conference honors (top 15).
Wartburg totaled 28 points, 17 less than second-place Luther.
Luther’s Tricia Serres dominated the field to defend her title in 21:57.7.
Johnson held Goetzl (22:59.7) back for the better of the team’s pack-running strategy. The result was a record number of all-conference runners.
“The rest of them are now all rallying around her,” Johnson said. “It gives them the strength and the confidence to be able to stick together and perform better.”
Erin Sawyers (23:10.4) and Morgan Gerdes (23:16.9) rounded out the top five. Wartburg’s other scorers were Beth Mallon and Dakota Tell.
Maddie Kleve, Elli Parker, Meghan Silbernagel and Sarah Shirar also earned all-conference recognition.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Johnson said. “It was an awesome meet. Very fun.”
1. Wartburg (28), 2. Luther (45), 3. Loras (89), 4. Central (111), 5. Dubuque (137), 6. Simpson (154), 7. Coe (203), 8. Buena Vista (257)
1. Tricia Serres (Luther, 21:57.7), 2. Serena Goetzl (Wartburg, 22:59.7), 3. Brianne Cook (Loras, 23:04.3), 4. Erin Sawyers (Wartburg, 23:10.4), 5. Morgan Gerdes (Wartburg, 23:16.9), 6. Fabiola Ortiz (Dubuque, 23:18.0), 7. Kaia Bierman (Luther, 23:24.0), 8. Beth Mallon (Wartburg, 23:24.7), 9. Dakota Tell (Wartburg, 23:26.3), 11. Lauren Mordini (Luther, 23:31.2), 12. Kenzie Carney (Luther, 23:33.0), 13. Elli Parker (Wartburg, 23:38.2), 14. Meghan Silbernagel (Wartburg, 23:41.3), 15. Sarah Shirar (Wartburg, 23:44.7)