The USD cross country teams are already going the distance this season, with the men and women’s teams finishing in the top of their categories during the Augustana Twilight meet on Sept. 2.
The women’s team placed first in the university division and the men took third in the same category.
“The Augustana meet was a good start to the year,” said two-time defending Summit League Women’s Coach of the Year Dan Fitzsimmons. “It is in the past and it was only one meet. We have to get our athletes healthy and keep training to get better.”
Five women placed in the top 10 at the meet to help boost the women to first place. Sophomore Megan Billington placed second while junior Erin Wetzstein placed third in the university division. Freshman Kianna Stewart came in next at fourth place and junior Lindsey Joyce finished sixth. Sophomore Madeline Huglen rounded out the five with an eighth place finish.
Other notable Coyote finshes were junior Bailey Oettel who finished 12th, senior Jessica Feldman at 14th, sophomore Bethany Kozak ended with a 16th place finish and topping off the Coyotes in the top 20 was freshman Julia Noah with a 19th place finish.
On the men’s side, the Coyotes were led by sophomore Eldon Warner who finished 11th. Following Warner was teammate Brice Cowman, a junior who finished 16th, senior Mach Dojiok at 20th, sophomore Jacob Simmons at 22nd and sophomore Hunter Paulsen finishing 23rd.
For Mach Dojiok, the lone Coyote men’s senior, the Augustana meet is something to build off of as the Coyotes start the grind of the season.
“We have to keep on doing what we are doing, stay together and focus on the task,” Dojiok said. “If we continue to focus on the little things we won’t have any more injuries so that we can continue the season being strong and healthy.”
USD’s next meet will be the Woody Greeno Invitational at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on Sept. 17.
Coach Fitzsimmons mentioned the course in Lincoln has more hills than the course at Augustana. The team is putting in more hills practice so that they are better prepared for this challenge. Fitzsimmons said he believes that their strength training can help with these hills as well.
“We are going to the UNL invite because we want to see better competition and the meet is closer to home. We want to keep our athletes in student-athlete mode where they are still able to go to class and be a student as well as an athlete and keep training,” Fitzsimmons said. “Our focus for the meet is the same as it was for Augustana. We just have to keep improving from last year and work to get better every day.”
The Coyote teams are ready to take on the competition of the Woody Greeno invite this upcoming weekend. Junior Erin Wetzstein said she’s ready to show some of the bigger schools that USD is nothing to be forgotten.
“The women’s team can compete just as well as any of the other schools that are going to be at this meet. USD is just as good as the other universities that will be attending as well no matter their size,” Wetzstein said. “The women’s team is ready to take on the UNL meet and is excited for the rest of the season.”
The Woody Greeno invite is set to begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday the 17th at Pioneers Park in Lincoln, Nebraska.