For the first time in school history, the Coyotes women’s cross country team is ranked No. 15 in the Midwest Region Poll. At the Woody Greeno Invitational in Lincoln, Neb., the Coyotes finished second, spurring the jolt into the polls.
The men’s team has also had its fair share of success this semester, winning the Creighton/University of Nebraska-Omaha Classic earlier this season, and finishing third at Woody Greeno.
“Every day we see improvement,” junior runner Benson Langat said. “And we are doing much better in comparison to last year, and even the beginning of the year.”
The Roy Griak Invitational hosts all divisions of the NCAA, but in Division I alone, there will be 30 teams competing.
“The invitational is a huge deal,” senior Carol Miller said. “There has been a large showing the last few years, and we’ve placed in the bottom two. This year, we feel that we can do much better.”
The tournament also has post-season implications for the Coyotes. Two teams from NCAA Midwest Regionals make it to the NCAA National Tournament, but bids are also handed out depending on resumés built during the season.
“National berths look at performances in meets like this and the Woody Greeno Invitational when handing out bids,” said coach Dan Fitzsimmons.
For competition against Division-I teams, this will be the most and best they will see before the Summit League Championships and Midwest Regionals.
“We raced against 300 plus competitors last weekend (Woody Greeno Invitational), but the Roy Griak will be higher caliber,” said senior Ali Gress. “Last weekend, it was all divisions mixed, but at the Roy Griak we will run again against 300 competitors, but they will all be Division I.”
After traveling to Minneapolis for the Roy Griak, the Coyotes have just one regular-season invitational left, the Tim Young in Vermillion.