Women’s cross country team claims high expectations

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

Six out of seven. Nine out of ten. That is how many of the women’s cross country team’s top runners return from last season. With the bulk of their team back, the women look to win the Division-I Independent Championship that barely eluded them last season.

Last year, the women finished in second place at the Independent Championships, losing by one point to Texas A&M-Corpus Christy. The Jackrabbits were literally half a second away from tying for first place. Senior Krystie Ratzlaff was passed just before she crossed the finish line, taking eighth place instead of seventh. The one point was critical for the Jacks, as they lost, 46-45.

The women were picked to finish first in the Independent Championship by a pre-season coaches poll.

“We feel pretty good about our chances (about winning),” said Head Coach Rod DeHaven.

Ratzlaff, along with fellow seniors Becca Mansheim, Katie Tornberg and Ashley Adams lead the way for the Jacks this season. Mansheim and Tornberg finished 1-2 in last season’s Independent Championship.

The women’s team is a health-oriented squad. Fourteen women on the squad are in the nursing program, two are in pre-pharmacy and three in pre-dental. Despite the difficult schedule the ladies deal with, they maintain excellence in athletics and academics. Last season, the team ranked third in the nation, with a 3.67 team grade point average.

The season has started well for the Jacks. For the first meet of the year, the team traveled to Fargo, N.D., where the women won the North Dakota State Invitational.

The Jackrabbits have also traveled to Lincoln, Neb. for the Woody Greeno/Nebraska Invitational. In Lincoln, the ladies finished second.

“We have started out fairly strong,” said DeHaven. We are about where we want to be so far in the season he said.

DeHaven expressed concern about the depth of runners six through 10 on his squad. He said they have had some injury problems but also some problems with the fitness of the team. DeHaven said he hopes the top five continue to run well.

“You are only as strong as your fifth runner,” he said.

The Jacks have two meets this upcoming weekend. The Jacks host a meet on Saturday, Sept. 22. This meet is for smaller schools in the area. It will be an opportunity for the younger Jackrabbit runners to get some experience running in a college meet.

On Sunday, Sept. 23, the team travels to Minneapolis, Minn. For the Roy Griak Invitational. The meet at the University of Minnesota invites some of the best D-I schools in the country. Last season, the team improved to 20th, after finishing 28th the year before. DeHaven said the meet will provide a good opportunity to look at how SDSU relates to other schools in the regions, especially schools in the Mid-Con and ranked teams.

The following weekend the Jacks host their SDSU Classic. On Sept. 30, the Jackrabbits will host a meet with Division-I competition. Nebraska, University of Northern Iowa and NDSU are some of the schools that will travel to Brookings.