The SDSU Classic for the USD cross country team was a mixture of smiles and frowns on the bus ride home. While the women stomped on conference foes finishing first in the team standings, the men fell short finishing fourth out of just four teams.
But solely staring at the team standings just doesn’t tell the whole story.
The women started off the day with a bang, with seniors Amber Eichkorn and Katie Wetzstein leading wire-to-wire and gapping the rest of the field by an entire 15 seconds at the finish. And not too far behind was senior Kelsey Barrett coming in fifth.
Eichkorn’s 5,000-meter victory propelled her to winning the Summit League’s cross country athlete of the week. It’s her fourth time receiving this award throughout her collegiate career.
Having Eichkorn, Wetzstein and Barrett in the Summit League’s top 10 individual times at distances of both 5,000 meters and 6,000 meters, it seems the women have found a nice spot for themselves with the Summit League Championships just a month away.
The second half of women’s front five is coming together nicely as well with first-year Megan Billington and junior Wisconsin-native Nicole Schmidt finishing 13th and 14th.
On the men’s side, there was some woes and some cheers. But it was a move in the right direction.
Senior Mubarik Musa, one of the conference’s best runners was out, as he was taking a standardized test.
Senior Isaac Allen came in second overall with a season best time of 25:31 in the 8,000-meter.
First-year Hunter Paulsen has been battling one of runner’s biggest woes.
“I’ve been battling shin splints for the past week, which caused me to miss Roy Griak,” he said.
That was Paulsen’s first glimpse at 8,000 meters, and although he didn’t finish exactly how he wanted, he’s looking forward to future chances to compete.
“I didn’t perform how I wanted, but the team is looking good in my opinion. We’ll just see what happens at Bradley,” Paulsen said.
Brice Cowman came in second for the team, finishing 16th overall with a time of 26:20.
“I think that was my best performance as a Coyote,” Cowman said. “As a team we all improved our times from Griak, and I think that’s given us a bit of momentum that we can take to Bradley and run even faster.”
Coming in third for the team was first-year Nathan Wendt, who finished 29th overall. Wendt had been battling a sickness last week according to Coach Fitz, and he proved that he was healthy again on Saturday.
“We were down our key runner, but we stuck it out and came together as a team,” Paulsen said.