St. Thomas sports ended a busy weekend on top with a national men’s cross country champion, two men’s basketball victories in California and first place finishes from both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams.
Senior Ben Sathre completed an undefeated 2011 season with an NCAA Division III national championship Saturday against a field of 280 runners.
Sathre finished first by more than five seconds with his 8,000 meter career best time of 24:44.27. The finish was the first first place finish by a Tommie since Nic Manciu 29 seasons ago.
“It feels incredible to put myself on the same level as some of the other guys that have come through the program in the past,” Sathre said.
Last season, Sathre was runner-up in the meet by one second.
Sathre said this year he wanted to build up an early lead.
“This year I went out a little bit harder and a little bit faster than I did last year and kind of built a little bit of a lead to take some people out of it, so we didn’t have such a big group at the end,” Sathre said.
Sathre was named the 2011 region men’s cross country athlete of the year by the U.S Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association.
Sathre also runs track for the Tommies.
St. Thomas men’s basketball opened its season with a 2-0 weekend in Los Angeles defeating Occidental 82-61 and holding off Pomona 82-79.
The Tommies held Occidental to just 17-48 from the field and 2-14 from the 3-point line. Senior guard Peter Leslie made five 3-pointers and tied his career-high with 17 points.
Leslie said Occidental’s talented starting five began in a two-three zone, but his team was able to shoot them out of it.
“I wasn’t really doing a whole lot just hitting open threes,” Leslie said. “My teammates were getting the boards and making the passes.”
On Saturday Pomona gave St. Thomas a tough test leading by five points in the final 30 seconds of the game.
Senior center Tommy Hannon’s layup with three seconds left on the clock forced the match-up into overtime.
Leslie said Hannon’s rebounding inspired tough play in the overtimes.
“We were playing really hard in the overtimes. It was just nuts,” Leslie said.
The Tommies needed two overtimes to top Pomona. Freshman center Connor Nord scored the game-winning layup in the last second of the second overtime.
Junior guard Will Deberg scored a career-high 20 points while the Tommie bench outscored Pomona’s 46-8. Sophomore forward Zach Riedeman scored a career-high 19 points off the bench.
Men’s and women’s swimming repeated as the Ahlman Invitational champions at Macalester this weekend.
The Tommie men won 15 events helping them to 605 points and a first place finish Saturday. St. Thomas beat second place Hamline by 436 points.
The Tommies won both the 200 and 400 medley relay with notable individual wins from freshmen Dane Washenberger in the 400 IM (4:31.29) and Nathan France in the 50 free (21.95) and 200 breast (1:03.62).
Sophomore diver Nick Johnson won both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving competitions.
The St. Thomas women won 12 events and took second in eight, leading them to an overall first place finish at the Alhman meet.
Sophomore Erin Hogan won both the 50 (25.6) and 200 free (2:01:69) for the Tommies. Senior diver Jennifer Easton also swept the competition, winning both the 1-meter and 3-meter dives.
The Tommies are set to host the St. Thomas Invitational Dec. 2-3.
Alex Keil can be reached at email@example.com