A tough test at the Griak Invite has SDSU ready for home meet Saturday.
Members of South Dakota State University’s men’s and women’s cross-country teams gave solid efforts against some of their stiffest competition of the season Sept. 24 at the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minn.
Under normal circumstances, the men finishing in 21st place out of 24 teams and the women finishing 25th out of 26 could be seen as a setback, but the top-flight competition faced by the Jackrabbit runners proved to be a worthy challenge. Going up against big name schools such as North Carolina State, California, and Arizona State would prove to be an uphill battle for SDSU, but head cross-country coach Rod DeHaven said that both teams rose to the occasion.
“Only two or three of those teams (at the Griak) were unranked regionally, so basically everyone you’re going up against is one of the top 140 teams in the country…and we had a lot of runners turn in personal bests,” Coach DeHaven said.
On the men’s side, Greg Vollmer turned in the best performance for the Jackrabbits, finishing in 65th place at a time of 25 minutes and 14 seconds, followed by Jared Ailts, Trent Lusignan, Kyle Schmidt, and Kenny Mayer finishing in 101st, 105th, 132nd, and 150th, respectively. As a team, they may have only placed ahead of three teams in the meet, but one team in particular that the Jackrabbits left in the dust may draw some attention among Summit League followers.
“It was really important for us to beat North Dakota State. They were the only other Summit League team there, and many see them as the second best team in the league. Maybe now they’ll see us that way instead,” DeHaven said.
For the SDSU women, only 24 seconds separated the top Jackrabbit runner, Tera Potts, and the fifth, Courtney Neubert. Potts finished 150th overall with a time of 23:18, followed 11 seconds later by Erin Hargens in 156th. Hargens was followed by the two Dannielle’s of SDSU women’s cross-country, Dannielle Burke and Danielle McCann, who separated themselves by only one second to finish in 162nd and 163rd, respectively. The Jackrabbit’s top five was rounded out by Neubert with a time of 23:42.
With the heavy competition and hilly course of the Griak Invitational behind them, both the men’s and women’s cross country teams look ahead to the SDSU Classic, being held Oct. 1 at the Edgebrook Golf Course in Brookings.
DeHaven said that he feels confident in where his teams are in their training and feels they have right mindset to run very competitively at the Summit League Championships.
“We’re traditionally a team that gets better as the leaves fall. This home meet has always been our catalyst to get us where we need to be for the Summit League meet…and Nebraska is ranked ahead of us regionally, so it would be nice to unseat them on our own course.”