Men’s Cross Country wins third straight League title

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Men’s Cross Country wins third straight League title

Carson Herbert

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For the third consecutive season and the seventh time since joining the Summit League, the South Dakota State men’s cross country team has won the Summit League championship.

Seven Jackrabbit runners finished in the top 10 of the race, which was held on Oct. 27 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Coach Rod DeHaven, who has coached the program to all seven Summit League titles, said there is still excitement each year the team wins.

“Every time you have the team step on the line for a conference championship, there is a lot of adrenaline involved,” DeHaven said.

There was a concern coming into Saturday according to DeHaven.

Key runner Chase Cayo was not 100 percent due to injuries coming into the championship.

Nevertheless, Cayo, the defending Summit League individual champion, was the championship runner-up and finished with a time of 25:12.15 with what he said was a nagging leg injury. The winning time was 24:58.59 by South Dakota’s Eldon Warner.

“It’s very cool to be a part of that long-standing tradition,” Cayo said of the success the Jacks have had. “Coming into a program where the expectation is ‘hey we are competing to win a conference championship every year,’ it’s just very easy as a competitive person to buy into that.”

The Jacks found success in other runners as well.

After being the runner-up in the 2017 championship, senior Kyle Burdick finished third with a final time of 25:17.90.

Freshman Joseph Minor-Williams was named the Summit League’s Newcomer of the Championship after placing eighth in the race just 0.6 seconds in front of his teammate freshman Thomas Breuckman.

As a team, the Jacks finished with 23 points to take home another league championship, 27 points ahead of runner-up North Dakota State.

Even though the Jacks took first, Cayo still thought they could have done better.

“The crazy thing is I don’t think everyone had the best day,” he said. “For the most part, we all did very well. A lot of the guys on the team are capable of doing even better of what we did last weekend. It says that we have a lot more potential and a lot more growth going into regionals.”

The Jacks finished third on the women’s side as senior Rachel King placed third and freshman Ellie Friesen finished 18th and earned Summit League Newcomer of the Championship.

Up next, the Jacks will be competing in the NCAA Midwest Regional races on Saturday, Nov. 9 in Peoria, Illinois.

Burdick said the time in between now and the Midwest Regional should not be taken lightly.

“This Sunday and Monday was the sorest I have been this season, so I am working on the little things to stay healthy,” Burdick said. “I definitely wouldn’t say this week is going to be easy. It is one week that can help us do really well at regionals or one week that can set us back.”

The Jacks will send the same runners who competed in the Summit League Championship to the Midwest Regionals.

Cayo said the team needs to focus and be at their best for the Midwest Regional race.

“There’s no saying what could happen. The regionals could play out in any sort of way and if we’re all on our A-game, something good could happen out of that.”