Jackrabbit harriers look to battle Summit League foes

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

The SDSU cross country teams will finish their season this Saturday at the Summit League Championships in Macomb, Ill., with Western Illinois University serving as host.

On the men’s side, senior Andrew Van Nurden has the best chance to finish near the top of standings, while red shirt freshman Marshall Kambestad should end up battling for a top 10 spot. Kambestad feels that his fitness is finally coming around and is looking for a big breakthrough at the Summit League meet. He goes on to say that Van Nurden has helped him a lot this season, showing him how to race at the college level. “He has set a great example of going out and working hard every day,” Kambestad said.

Southern Utah is led by senior Mark Currell. Currell and the team are favored to win, with the Thunderbirds having won nine of the last 10 conference championships.

After that, the race is wide open, according to coach Rod DeHaven. The SDSU men were picked fourth in the pre-season rankings, and getting above that would be a good accomplishment. DeHaven said that a third place finish would be okay while a second place finish would be great.

Caitlin Berry leads the women’s team into the conference championship. Berry stands a good chance of making first team all-conference. DeHaven said that Oral Roberts “will likely have the individual conference champion… [but] they have depth issues that may hurt them in the team standings. We will have to run very well, but a good finish near the top of the standings is not out of the realm of possibility.”

With SDSU going through the transition to Division I, this will be the first year that the cross country team will compete in an end-of-the-year conference meet since being in the North Central Conference (2003). The move to the Summit League has helped the team be more familiar with the teams in their conference instead of being an independent (not having any conference affiliation at all).

The highlight of the men’s season was the Disney Classic in Florida, where they finished first, beating out over 40 other teams. Meanwhile, the women finished seventh in their last meet in Wisconsin. DeHaven said that the team was “much more aggressive in the early part of the race.”

The goal for this weekend is to bring back some hardware on Saturday, DeHaven said.

The men’s race begins at 10 a.m. and the women’s race starts at 11 a.m.