This fall the Coyote men’s cross country team is spearheaded by a trio of seniors who were aiming for a successful season. Due to the pandemic, the Summit League Presidents Council announced the delay of fall sports to the spring, shifting the focus for Kallo Arno, Seth Iverson and Cole Streich.
After coming off a successful outdoor cross country season last fall and an incomplete indoor track season last spring, the trio said they were looking forward to racing their final year as Coyotes.
“We start training early in the summer after track season gets done, so we’re training in the middle of May or early June,” Streich said, “So by the time school rolled around we had already been training for two to three months and a lot of us have been putting in a lot of good work this summer.”
The first day back on campus the cross country team had a time trial which was the best the team has had in years, Streich said.
“We had a really really strong showing this summer with our training but we’re all bummed (about the postponement) because we had put in that work,” Streich said.
When the trio entered their freshman year the men’s cross country team was led by a strong group of juniors, whom they looked up to, Streich said. After learning how to be team leaders from those upperclassmen, Streich said the now seniors knew it was time to step up and be the new team leaders in their junior and senior years.
“I guess with this being our final year that we really have grown and we know how to motivate each other to excel,” Streich said. “Now we’re the seniors and it’s kind of humbling. Just seeing how far we’ve risen from when he got here and we stuck it out all four years through injuries and whatnot, which is tough.”
Having the season taken away doesn’t stop the incredible bond that the team has, Arno said.
“Seeing how we all evolved from freshman year up until now — I think team-wise the bond has just been really incredible,” Arno said. “Starting out freshman year, I was like who the heck is Cole (Streich), but now we’ve all got each other’s backs. We’ve all been through it and that bond is just there to stay forever. Even after we all move on, I feel like it’ll just be really strong.”
One team tradition the cross country team has is a run to Wimps, in Burbank for ice cream and spaghetti during fall camp.
“I think we really enjoy that, just spending time bonding with the team. That whole week’s pretty beneficial to us. I mean we’re cross-country guys, we love to eat.” Streich said.
Arno, a member of the men’s squad at the 2019 NCAA Midwest Regional, said he enjoys getting to know the newcomers and welcoming them to the team.
“I like to reach out to them and kind of talk to them one-on-one, to get to know their background story and see how they feel about coming into college and cross country as a freshman,” Arno said. “That way once we’re all together and running they don’t feel awkward like they can’t talk to us.”
Ensuring the newcomers know they can laugh, and talk to the upperclassmen and making sure they don’t feel disconnected from the team is important, Arno said.
Streich and Arno both said that Coach Dan Fitzsimmons is a reason the team is as successful and tight-knit as they are.
“Fitz came to my senior state track meet and I thought that was probably the coolest thing a coach could do, Arno said. “He took his time out of his day to come and watch me which he didn’t have to do.”
The biggest takeaway from four years together as members of the cross country team is having a forever team, Streich said.
“I think for me it’s just embracing the teammates that are going to be with you for four years,” Streich said. “Kallo (Arno) and I have been friends since the first year of college. We’ve been through the wringer but those friendships are really what makes the experience running at USD worth it.”
Streich and Arno said they are both striving to reach their goals they made this year for the indoor and outdoor track since the cross country is no longer viable.
“I want to make the all-time list in a couple of my events to leave my mark on USD history,” Streich said. “But also just setting the path for the younger kids to take over the program and to lead in the right direction.”
Arno adds he’d like to get to the 1:52 area in the 800 meters, while also staying in shape for whatever the future holds.
“Who knows maybe tomorrow someone’s from the NCAA is like hey you guys have a season and we will be ready,” Arno said.