Runners kickstart season at Bison Open

By: Robert Myers Sports Editor

The SDSU men’s and women’s cross country teams strode into their 2014 season with the Bison Open on Friday.

Of the five teams competing, the Jacks finished second behind USD and ahead of NDSU, UND and Fort Wayne.  Leading the charge for the Jacks was the second overall finisher, sophomore Brendan Sage.

“He [Sage] had a good freshman year and he had a good summer which was built on that solid freshman year, so that wasn’t really a huge surprise,” said head coach Rod DeHaven. “…He ran a really intelligent race, really controlled and he moved up throughout the entire race.”

Sage finished the 6k race with a time of 19:08, 15 seconds behind overall winner Brant Haase of USD.

 Joining Sage in the top-10 were Trevor Capra, 7th, and Connor Brannick, 9th. Runners 11 through 20 finished within about 15 seconds of each other.  Dan Pettit came in in the middle of that crowd, good for 16th.

The SDSU women placed fourth, falling to USD, NDSU and UND while defeating IPFW. Only junior Samantha Anderson finished in the top-10, 7th, but that was a result of the runners DeHaven decided to run.

“Pretty much everyone who scored in conference or was all-conference in track or cross country last year we held out, because we didn’t want to overdo it.” DeHaven said. “Emotionally a lot is going to go into the month of October.”

A trio of Jackrabbits joined Anderson in the top 20 with Renae Dykstra finishing 16th and Brooke Peterson and Abby Phillips coming into back to back at 18th and 19th. Both Dykstra and Phillips are freshmen, while Peterson is beginning her senior campaign. All three Jacks finished within two seconds of each other.

Although the Jacks failed to measure up to their preseason rankings of first in conference on the men’s side and second in the conference on the women’s side, DeHaven is not at all concerned coming out of his teams’ inaugural meet.

“At this point I don’t read a lot into these early-season meets,” DeHaven said. “It’s a long way till the end of the season. … We’re looking more toward building momentum in October.”

Instead of beating rivals, DeHaven said the focus at this point lies primarily on training and condition rather than times, the men and women are succeeding at so far.

“We’ll see where we’re at in October, but right now things are pretty positive in terms of effort and everything else,” DeHaven said.

DeHaven will look to see more of that effort next weekend when his teams travel to the Oz Memorial in Falcon Heights, Minn. on Friday, Sept. 5.

“We’ll roll out the other women who didn’t run last weekend and we’re excited to see where they’re at. And then Drew Kraft will run on the guys and I think we’ll have a little bit more aggressive race plan,” DeHaven said.