After nearly a month, the Coyote men’s and women’s cross country teams were back in action over the weekend at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn.
The women’s team finished 17th out of 30 schools behind top runners senior Megan Hilson, who placed 65th of 300, while the men finished 22nd of 24.
“Our goal was to have seven women run under 24 minutes, and six were able to do that,” head coach Dan Fitzsimmons said. “The seventh was close, but our top four women were very impressive.”
The women’s team successes include this 17th place finish as well as a No. 12 ranking in the Midwest region.
“We’ve worked really hard to improve over the last few years and especially the last year,” Hilson said. “Twelfth is not the goal though. We need to show that we can continue to compete with the schools ahead of us.”
While the women have seen success, the men have been caught with the injury bug.
“On the men’s side we’re trying to get healthy,” Fitzsimmons said. “Two of our top guys just got back into action over the weekend. We are just trying to get better every day. If we can do that, we will do some things this season.”
One of the runners suffering from an injury is senior Jeff Mettler. Mettler was named Coyotes’ Male Athlete of the Year in 2012 also earning first-team All-League honors.
Mettler finished 153rd at the Roy Griak Invitational.
“Right now, I’m coming back from an injury. I’m not in the best shape, my results at the Griak show that,” Mettler said. “I’ve put trust in the coaches to get me ready for the conference meet – when it matters.”
Injury ridden or not, the Coyotes season continues Friday as the men and women both head to Brookings for the South Dakota State Classic.
“Beating (South Dakota State) is always something we want to do, but it’s not easy. They’re a tough team to beat by any means,” Hilson said.
In Brookings, the Coyotes will also see Summit League foe North Dakota State, the only other Summit League competition. The Coyotes will face schools throughout the region including the University of Minnesota, who placed eighth and fourth in men’s and women’s at the Roy Griak Invitational, respectively.
“NDSU and SDSU are the odds-on favorites to win the Conference,” Fitzsimmons said. “We’re just trying to improve this weekend and get closer to those teams.”
This will be only the third race of the year for the Coyotes, and comes just a month before the Summit League Championships Nov. 2 in Fort Wayne, Ind.
“Our focus this year is on the end of the year,” Mettler said. “We know we still have a lot of work to do, but we’re still improving.”
The race in Brookings kicks off at 5:30 p.m., as part of SDSU’s homecoming.