Adjusting on the Run

Spencer Chase

A young SDSU team gained valuable experience while competing against lower division schools.

The Jackrabbit women’s cross country team gained valuable experience as they brought home a second place finish at Dakota State University’s Herb Blakey Invitational on Sept. 17.

Junior Brooke Wyffels finished in fifth place in the 5K with a time of 19 minutes and 42 seconds and set a strong pace for the rest of the Jackrabbit women to follow. Four of the top eight times were turned in by SDSU runners, including three freshmen runners. Alex Suhr took sixth place at 19:57, Brooke Peterson was seventh at 20:01, Leah Bolon took eighth at 20:21, and Bobbie Sedlmajer rounded out the effort for SDSU taking eleventh with a time of 20:40. As a team, the Jackrabbits finished only six points behind the meet winner the University of Sioux Falls.

Head Coach Rod DeHaven attributed some of the success to the lower level of competition but said the women put forth a great effort. According to DeHaven, most of the women that ran on Saturday are either first or second year runners and are working hard at adjusting to collegiate level running.

“Something that was a long workout in high school is now a medium workout in college. They’re also adjusting to things like their classes and living in the dorms, so this was a great meet to build up their confidence, and most of these runners improved on their times from two weeks ago,” DeHaven said.

DeHaven also noted that running in confidence-building meets such as this was a great way to not only improve individual athletes, but improve the program as a whole. He noted that the program had slipped in recent years, but gave credit to upper-classmen for their effort to take Jackrabbit cross country to the level they have in mind.

Although the men did not compete as a team, two of their runners did compete Saturday.

Senior Dominic Thielen finished in fifth place in the 8K race with a time of 27:20, and sophomore Christian Karels finished just behind in sixth place at 27:28.

“(Thielen) is usually an 800 runner during track season, and mainly does cross country to stay in shape, but as thin as we are, he may become a contributor this year,” DeHaven said.

Karels competed unattached last year, and DeHaven said that his time on Saturday was almost thirty seconds better than last years’ times. DeHaven went on to say that such an improvement could be attributed to many things such as weather, level of competition, and layout of the course, but he also gave Karels credit for his hard work to improve himself.

“Christian is a guy that we’d cut in the past, so it’s nice to see him doing well this year,” DeHaven noted.

The men’s and women’s cross country teams will both travel to Minneapolis on Saturday, Sept. 24, for the Roy Griak Invitational.