The women’s cross-country team will try to run their way to the top of the Division-I Independent Championship after barely missing the title last season, while the men will attempt to defend their championship title.
So far, the season has been filled with ups and downs for both Head Coach Rod DeHaven and runners. Six runners returned to the women’s second place team last year, but only one runner returned to the men’s first-place team.
“It is kind of how things play out with our transition to Division I, graduation and transfers,” DeHaven said.
Since the transition to Division-I athletics, many things have changed for the athletic programs at SDSU. For cross-country, one thing has not changed, however, and that is regional recruiting. The majority of runners on both teams come from South Dakota and surrounding states in the Midwest.
Amidst all the changes, there seems to be nothing but an optimistic attitude coming from the runners and DeHaven.
Both the men and women’s teams go through excessive training when preparing for a race. The practice takes numerous hours of physical and mental preparation.
One thing most people do not realize about cross-country is that the runner’s coach or fellow teammates are not always with them every step of the way. The sport takes much personal training and preparation.
“Athletes that compete in cross-country running are highly motivated and strong-willed. They may not always want to go out and run those ten miles, but they do it anyway,” DeHaven said.
At the teams’ final meet in West Salem, Wis., the women won and the men finished 16th.
Senior Becka Manshiem finished second in the 6,000-meter race with a time of 21:28.5, and Katie Tomberg placed eighth with a time of 22:04.78.
From the men’s team, sophomore Zach Frohling finished 39th in the 8,000-meter race with a time of 25:31.70. Freshman Bryan Kegley placed 118th, coming in at 26:42.53.
The teams now turn their focus to the Independent Championships.
“I would really like for both teams to do well, but I hope to see the women win. Last year, they lost by one point,” DeHaven said.
The women’s team suffered a tough loss last season to host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The race was lost when the Jacks’ 3rd runner was passed just before she crossed the finish line.
While having an Independent Championship would be nice, the best reward for DeHaven is “the excitement to see the students grow, whether they be the fastest, or kids who have just come on the team.”