Jacks compete in Chile Pepper Invite

Spencer Chase

The SDSU men’s and women’s cross country teams battled through tough competition from their competitors as well as the elements at the Chile Pepper Invite Oct. 13 in Fayetteville, Ark.

On a course that was consistently riddled with standing water and muddy patches from a weather system that dumped buckets of rain on the course in the days leading up to the meet, the men and women brought home 9th and 13th place finishes, respectively.

The men were led by Michael Krsnak, who was one of two runners in the top ten from schools outside the Big 12, with a ninth-place finish. Krsnak was followed by Trent Lusignan in 21st, Jared Ailts in 33rd, Drew Kraft in 73rd and Andrew Thies, who rounded out the Jackrabbit top five in 97th. The Chile Pepper Invite features a 10K men’s race rather than the traditional 8K. Cross country head coach Rod DeHaven said this is a good way to prepare for the NCAA Regionals in early November.

“Our workouts have been geared to run a little bit better at 10K so we could run a little stronger at regionals,” DeHaven said. “Some of the younger guys had trouble because that’s basically double their high school distance, but our older guys knew what to expect.”

The Jacks now begin their preparation for the Summit League Championships in Rochester, Mich. on Oct. 27. The Jacks were picked as the preseason favorite to win the league championship by Summit League coaches, and many coaches still feel SDSU is the strongest team in the conference.

“We hope that we’re in the thick of the team race for the championship,” DeHaven said. “Our top three guys should be top-10 finishers, so it’ll probably come down to how our fourth and fifth runners come in.”

The women ran their traditional 6K distance and kept a very tight pack in their top five finishers with only 18 seconds separating their first and fifth runners. Laura Wolles led the Jackrabbits in 70th, followed by Erin Hargens six seconds later in 82nd. Tera Potts and Courtney Neubert finished three seconds apart in 87th and 88th, respectively, and Cheyanne Bowers capped off the SDSU top five four seconds later in 92nd.

DeHaven said the close pack is good, but he sees room for improvement.

“That group has run pretty close together all fall, so they’ve been very consistent for us,” DeHaven said. “We’re going to need to move forward and break that group up a little bit, maybe put someone in the top-10 if we want to really compete next week.”

DeHaven is expecting a strong performance from the North Dakota State women, but sees SDSU as a team that could be in serious contention for the runner-up spot.

“We need to have an inspired performance on the 27th and hopefully we’ll come out with a good feeling of what we’ve accomplished during the fall,” DeHaven said.