Runners prep for home meet

Spencer Chase

The SDSU men’s and women’s cross country teams collected second and third place finishes at the OZ Memorial Sept. 7 in Falcon Heights, Minn.

The men collected their second consecutive runner-up finish behind strong personal best performances from Trent Lusignan and Jared Ailts, the only two upperclassmen to compete for SDSU. Lusignan finished third overall in the race and Ailts crossed the finish line about 20 seconds later in fifth. Joel Reichow also finished in the top ten in his first collegiate race with an eighth place finish. SDSU head coach Rod DeHaven said many runners elected not to compete in order to prepare for the upcoming SDSU Classic.

“We have three races in the first three weeks of our season, so we elected to have our runners choose the two races they ran in,” DeHaven said. “In our sport, we’re not really penalized for getting beat early, so we just want to keep from getting burnt out this early in the season.”

SDSU’s top five was rounded out by Jensen Orlow in 24th and Phillip LaVallee in 31st. Both Orlow and LaVallee were also competing in their first collegiate race. This race was a 6K race instead of the traditional 8K men’s competitive distance to ease teams into competition.

The men were also ranked as the 11th team in the Midwest region by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. SDSU is the highest ranked Summit League school in the Midwest region with UMKC being the only other ranked school at 15th. DeHaven said the accolades are nice, but the team still has a larger focus.

“(The ranking is) nice, but it’s not going to change our world,” DeHaven said. “The NCAA Regionals are in two months, so that’s the ranking that matters.”

The women posted a third place finish from a mix of true freshmen and one redshirt freshman, Laura Lawton, who was the high finisher for the Jacks. The University of Minnesota dominated the women’s race, recording 14 of the top 15 finishers, so Lawton’s 19th place finish was improved to 10th place for points purposes.

“(Lawton) was injured early in the fall, and she just wasn’t ready to go,” DeHaven said. “She’s been running well and could compete for that fourth or fifth spot on our team as the season progresses.”

For the rest of the team, Cheyanne Bowers had a first race that DeHaven characterized as “great,” finishing 29th, followed by Samantha Anderson in 41st, Jessica Eibs in 51st and Jenna Grossenburg in 53rd.

The Jacks will now gear up for their only home meet of the season, the SDSU Classic on Friday. DeHaven said the Jacks will be running with a full roster against very good competition, including the Minnesota women and full teams from NDSU and UND.

“It’s nice not to have to travel and to be able to have your parents come to Brookings to see you run, and this race will give us a good idea of where we’re at,” DeHaven said.

The SDSU Classic will be held Friday at the Edgebrook Golf Course in Brookings and will be the Jacks last meet for two weeks until the Sept. 29 Griak Invitational..