Cross country finishes top in championship meet

Cross country finishes top in championship meet

Allison Mueller

Emma Cavanaugh / Winonan

The Winona State University women’s cross country team was looking for a top-three finish at the NSIC Championship meet this past Saturday, and they found it. The meet was held in Sioux Falls, S.D., the second time this season the Warriors have ran the course before. The first meet of the season was a three-mile, and the conference meet was ran as a 6k, making the loop larger.

“We’ve won two meets already. We won our first meet at Augustana, which is where the meet [was] this weekend and then we won our St. Cloud meet which is always kind of fun for us, so it’s going pretty well,” junior Hannah Lewis said.

She also talked about how the team has improved since last year. They hoped to be in the top three for the meet in Sioux Falls. Head coach Brett Ayers shared his thoughts before the championship meet.

“The women, I think, have a real chance to finish in the top three of the conference. I think we’ll be disappointed if they’re not,” Ayers said. “We’re running well I expect them to keep doing that.”

They were not disappointed. The team finished third in the meet, behind University of Minnesota Duluth, and University of Mary.

Junior Raissa Hansen and junior Hannah Lewis both raced their way onto the NSIC Second Team All-Conference list. Hansen placed 11th at 21:18, and Lewis took 18th with a time of 21:50.

The men’s team also set goals for the meet.

“I think a top-five finish would be good. We could do that. We’ve got a really good guy, Seth Reel, who’s having a really great season. I know his aspiration is to be right in there with them battling for a conference title, so we’re looking at that,” Ayers said. “He’s a senior, so I’m sure he’s looking to close out his senior year with a good run. The course suits him.”

Unlike the women’s team, the men just missed their goal and took home sixth place instead of the aspired fifth. But Reel, a senior ran his way into an All-Conference title. He placed third overall in the race with a time of 24:26.58.

The team’s normal season has come to a close, and they look onward to Regionals in two weekends and Nationals after that.

“The season went very well. The women won two or three meets. We didn’t run well at the Roy Griak invitational this year, but the conditions were pretty hard, so we didn’t take too much from that. The men have been running well, we’re still looking for a fifth guy. We’ve been closing up that gap, so I think we’ve been coming around at the right time for the men,” Ayers said, summarizing the season.

Lewis added that the women’s team has been especially competitive this year.

“We don’t even have a top-seven squad right now, we kind of have a whole bunch of girls coming in and out because everyone just wants it so bad,” Lewis said.

The Warriors will race again at the Central Regional Championship on Saturday, Nov. 5 in Sioux Falls, S.D.

-By Emma Cavanaugh