Five Jackrabbit cross country runners crossed the line within 11 places of each other as the Jacks earned a third-place finish at the SDSU Classic at Edgebrook Golf Course in Brookings.
The meet, which landed on Hobo Day, saw SDSU notch 118 points in the mostly regional meet. Minnesota won the race with a mere 24 points. Nebraska came in second with 58 points.
Nebraska’s Lara Crofford finished the 3.1-mile course in 17 minutes and 31 seconds. Megan Duwell paced the Minnesota Gophers to second place with a time of 17:33. Minnesota had six runners crack the top 10.
Claire Steinke finished first for SDSU in a time of 18:49. Steinke was in a dogfight with a few runners from neighboring schools in the last quarter mile. Within a seven-second span, Steinke could see a runner from the University of South Dakota, North Dakota State and North Dakota. While Steinke could not catch the in-state and cross-state runners, SDSU did beat all of their former North Central Conference teams.
USD came in fourth with a score of 144, NDSU came in just behind the Coyotes with 166 points and UND finished seventh with 185 points. Minnesota State University, Mankato took eighth place. Belmont, a powerhouse in the Atlantic Sun Conference, took sixth place with 169 total team points.
The 5k run started off badly for SDSU as junior Ashley Storm – SDSU’s front-runner for the latest two cross country meets – fell down and got stepped on by a few runners. Storm, against the wishes of head coach Rod DeHaven, stayed in the race and finished 22nd in the team’s race. She was the second Jackrabbit to cross the finish line.
Storm fell behind to several SDSU runners at the start, but she passed them with sheer determination. Even though her coach told her to stop, she wanted to do the best for her team.
“Despite my pleas for her to pull out, Ashley finished strong,” said DeHaven, who is in his third year of coaching both the men’s and women’s teams. “She really helped us out.”
Storm had a few medical staff personnel look at her injury. She has had ankle problems before.
Nicole Davis finished third for SDSU with a time of 19:00. The SDSU junior finished 24th overall in the team race competition.
Besides Storm, another runner for the Jacks that had been less than 100 percent in the season was senior Caitlin Berry. Berry came in fourth for SDSU and 26th in the team race.
“Caitlin has been struggling a little bit this season, but I thought she ran a smart race today,” said DeHaven.
With a lot of friends and family cheering her on in her last meet in the state of South Dakota, Berry was happy with her finish.
“I was trying to rebound from the down race at Griak (last week’s meet),” she said. “I haven’t been feeling my best, so it was nice to finish strong.”
Amanda Frohling rounded out the top five for SDSU with a 27th team place finish.
The focus of the whole season is to pick up at the end of the season. “We need to keep getting better,” said DeHaven.
The Jacks are preparing in particular for the Summit League championships at Shreveport, La., on Nov. 1. SDSU feels like the team is on its way to be ready.
“We’ll be ready to go by the conference meet,” said Berry, whose husband plays quarterback for SDSU. “This is what we’re always gunning for. We haven’t run to our potential, but we’ll ready to go.”
DeHaven is pleased that the Summit championships will be a 6k instead of 5k.
“I think if we go another sixth tenth of a mile, we go a little bit strong,” he said. “So I’m happy about that.”
SDSU will have a week off next week, then will travel the Tori Neubauer Invitational at West Salem, Wis.
After the Summit League championships the Jacks are scheduled to race in the NCAA Midwest Regional in Stillwater, Okla.