Men and Women’s Cross Country teams qualify for nationals

Michael Pecha

Michael Pecha

South Dakota State’s men’s and women’s cross country teams both qualified for the NCAA Division II national championship by finishing in the top five in their respective races at the regional championships in Hays, Kans.

The men’s team, now ranked third in the nation, finished second at regions, thanks in part to strong finishes by Brad Lowery and Kevin Doe.

Lowery led the Jackrabbits by finishing sixth in the 10 kilometer race in a time of 31:13.

Doe followed less than a second behind, finishing seventh.

“Brad and Kevin looked great,” head coach Paul Danger said.

“I also like how the rest of the group keeps getting better.”

Greg Darbyshire and Matt Pearson came away with top-20 finishes at the meet. Darbyshire (31:49) finished 14th, while Pearson (32:13) finished18th.

Andy Blau rounded out the scoring five for the Jackrabbits, finishing 28th in 32:50.

Kevin Bjerke (33:34) finished 55th, while Mike Steele (33:58) finished 67th.

Danger pointed out how far the Jackrabbit program has come in the past few years.

“This was the first time our men have beaten Adams State since 1996.”

Western State University and Adams State are two Division II cross country powerhouses, both located in Colorado.

Western won the regional meet, taking the top three individual spots.

Danger said that a total group effort from the Jackrabbits will make for an exciting national meet.

The women Jackrabbits took fourth place.

Sheena Dauer was the top Jackrabbit, finishing 11th in 21:52 for the six kilometer course.

Erin Woolley and Katie Tornberg finished close together in 32nd and 36th, respectively. Woolley finished in 23:25, while Tornberg finished in 23:32.

“Katie had the best race of the season,” Danger said.

“She originally went to the race as an alternate, but when she got the opportunity to race she really took advantage of the situation to help get our team into the national meet. That was exactly what our team needed.”

Krystie Ratzlaff (23:49)finished 49th and Megan Poppens (23:51) finished 50th to round out the top five.

Erin Foss (24:08) finished 59th while Alyssa Ruedebusch (24:48) finished 86th.

The women’s field consisted of 25 teams. SDSU finished behind Adams State, Western State and CU-Colorado Springs.

“The women’s north central regional is the strongest in the nation,” Danger said.

“Our goal was to get in the top five. We had three freshmen in our scoring positions, which says a lot about the competetiveness of these women.”

The national championship meet takes place in Ashland, Ohio on November 23.

“I am very proud of our teams and I am looking forward to nationals,” Danger said. “I feel like our best race is still in front of us.”