USD will host two Summit League championships this year – one this fall and one in spring.
The cross country championship will take place at The Bluffs golf course on Oct. 28, the same day the football team takes on Southern Illinois.
Spring will see the Coyotes travel to Sioux Falls Feb. 14-17 to host the swimming and diving championships at the Midco Aquatic Center.
This is the first time USD is hosting a cross country Summit League championship. David Herbster, USD’s athletic director, said member schools rotate who hosts.
With the success the teams have had so far, it could be a capstone for senior runners.
The women’s team has won three years in a row, and are looking to extend that to four in front of their own crowd.
Senior Erin Wetzstein said she’s looking to end her collegiate career with a perfect 4-for-4 in Summit League Championships.
“It’s really exciting,” Wetzstein said. “I’ve been really thankful to be a part of each year that we’ve been able to win. Each year, it hasn’t really been expected, but the pressure gets more and more to win.”
With the support of teammates and the community, she thinks the team will be able to bring a fourth championship to Vermillion.
“We’re always up for the challenge and it’s our goal to bring home the win this year on our home course, and I think we’ll be able to,” Wetzstein said.
The season got off to a good start for the team at the Augustana Twilight in Sioux Falls: the women won and the men came in second. They’ll travel to Lincoln, NE, for the Woody Greeno Invitational.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the USD cross country team’s national championship win.
With Indiana University-Perdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) out of the Summit League, they’ll no longer host the swimming and diving championships at their Natatorium.
The championships will move from Indianapolis to Sioux Falls, where the newly-built Midco Aquatic Center will play host.
Senior swimmer Kassidie Cornell said the move is positive for the Coyotes and others.
“I think many Midwest recruits could come down for one of the days to watch us compete at the championships,” she said. “I think it’ll also save the program money, because we’re not spending however much with plane tickets and whatnot. It’ll be great all-around, especially being able to say we get to host.”
The Midco Aquatic Center is considerably smaller than the Natatorium in Indianapolis. Cornell said that’s for the best.
“Because IUPUI was bigger, it wasn’t as loud with the crowds,” she said. “I know we have an amazing parent support crowd at all of our championships, so I think it will be a really cool environment.”
USD was already looking into hosting in Sioux Falls before the Summit League announced it was looking for a new host after IUPUI left the conference.
“When conference let us know that they were going to move the championships away (from IUPUI), we piped up and raised our hand and said we’d be willing to host,” Herbster said. “They were exploring sites at the University of Iowa, in the Twin Cities. Once it came down to decide, I think they realized we were willing to provide the bodies and the organization for the championship. They have a relationship with the city anyways, with the Summit League basketball tournament being there.”
USD will have to wait and see if it becomes the permanent home of the swimming and diving championships, like IUPUI was, Herbster said.
“IUPUI was the permanent host because they had the best facilities,” he said. “We would certainly advocate (to be permanent hosts), and I think a lot will depend on how the championships go this year.”