Men’s and women’s cross country makes great strides

Allison Mueller

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A Winona State Warrior takes the lead against Luther. Photo credit: Bartholome Rondet

Eric Schroeder/ Winonan

Saturday’s St. Mary’s Alumni Open yielded great success for both the men and women’s cross country teams at Winona State University.

Head coach Brett Ayers said there are high expectations for both men’s and women’s teams, with neither team loosing any key runners from the previous season.

The men’s team is lead by senior Billy Eifert, a two-time All-Regional team selection.

Coming off of their “best season ever,” according to coach Ayers, this team is poised for another record setting year.

As a team, Eifert said he expects the Warriors to make top-three in conference and qualify as a team for nationals.

While not ranked in the top 25 in the nation currently, according to US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, the men’s team got off on the right foot in the SMU Open.

Winona State men’s team finished first overall with seven runners placing in the top ten.

Eifert finished first with a time of 23:28.81.Senior Sam Westerberg followed in third place with a 23:39.03, while teammates sophomore Seth Reel and junior Nick Couillard closely followed with times of 23:39.35 and 23:39.99.

Junior Shane Carlson, freshman Charles Schauer and freshman Max Gonzalez took seventh, eighth and ninth place to complete the top ten finish for the Warriors.

As an individual, Eifert said he hopes to have his best season and in doing so, hopes to make the top ten fastest times list in the men’s cross country program at Winona State.

Winona State women’s cross country took the top 11 spots in the meet and finished with 14 runners in the top 16.

Senior Jordan Skelly placed first in the event with a time of 18:58.99. Junior Jordan Paschke took second with a 19:15.50 finish and senior Chelsea Schrubbe finished third with a time of 19:28.77.

This year’s team is led by two-time All-American senior Jessica Young, who finished in fourth with a time of 19:34.93, and four time Wisc. state meet qualifier freshman McKenzie Fortier.

Fortier posted a top ten finish along with freshmen Raissa Hansen and Mckenzie Carper, and sophomores Kate Simonet, Madeline Martell and Amanda Kaiser.

Fortier said she hopes to continue her hard work and contribute points each meet to continue the success of the Warriors.

Young is extremely optimistic about this season and said she believes the team can get to nationals and hopefully place in the top ten.

According to the USTFCCCA poll, the Warriors are currently ranked tenth in the nation.

Five races remain until the conference meet, and Ayers said they hope to return to the division two national meet.

The Louisville Cross Country Classic at the start of October is a meet that will give Winona’s runners a chance to compete against some of the best runners in the nation, not only at the division two level, but against division one athletes as well.

Next, both teams will participate in the Wisconsin-Parkside Midwest Open on Sept. 13 in Somers, Wis.