Jacks’ women out-run pesky Gophers at race finish line

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

The women’s cross country teams are hitting their stride right before the Summit League Tournament.

The Jackrabbit harriers won the Tori Neabauer Invitational, edging Minnesota by a point, while the men finished seventh out of 25 teams at the Jim Drews Invitational.

Both meets were hosted by Wisconsin-La Crosse.

“The women’s team had a very special performance,” head coach Rod DeHaven said. “We talked beforehand about this meet being a simulation for the conference meet with as many as four teams that could possibly win and that the final score would likely be very close.

“It turned out exactly that way, as the meet was literally decided by the will of some our athletes, in particular Caitlin Berry and Kelsey Aune who passed athletes in the last 100 meters of the race to flip the team score in our favor.”

All five runners that recorded scores for the women finished in the top 25, with senior Caitlin Berry leading the team with an eighth-place finish. The Watertown native finished the 6,000-meter course in 22 minutes and 7.9 seconds.

“She has never really been ‘on’ all season due to sickness,” DeHaven said of Berry.

“Saturday was clearly her best race of the season, but I believe that she will be much better in two weeks than she was on Saturday. Her workouts just started to better last week, and we probably won’t see the benefits of that work until the next time we race.”

Senior Claire Steinke (22:25.7), juniors Ashley Storm (22:27.2) and Nicole Davis (22:30.2) finished 15th, 16th and 17th, respectively. Aune, a sophomore rounded out the Jacks scoring with a 25th-place finish.