Winona State University women’s cross country team shone bright with a first place finish at their dim, evening race. The team ran at the Augustana Twilight meet on Friday, Sept. 1. The team took an overall fourth place, racing against 30 other teams, but won in their division.
“Overall, we got fourth place behind three pretty good Division I schools,” senior Hannah Lewis said. “We ran really well at this meet last year, so I think we all expected to come back and do it again.”
First in for the Warrior women was senior Raissa Hansen taking 11th place with a time of 18:13. Sophomore Anna Rogahn was next in for the women’s team with a time of 18:32, taking 22nd place. The third Warrior runner was sophomore Olivia Anger, finishing with a time of 18:37 for 26th place.
“Rogahn trained really hard this summer and returned to Winona in really great shape. It definitely showed at the meet, because she was our second runner behind Raissa,” Lewis said.
The entire race boasted 310 runners. “We were happy to have some girls finish in the top 30,” Lewis added.
The team’s goals for the season include heading to nationals for the first time in a few seasons, having missed the opportunity for the last two years.
“We’ve always raced well and our competition just has been a little better than us. We all worked extra hard during summer training this year and are focusing on making each other better every day at practice,” junior Hope Willenbrink said. “Our team goal for the end of the season would be to place in the top two or three at regionals which would automatically qualify us for nationals.”
This year’s women’s team is an older team, with seven seniors leading the charge.
“There is definitely a good amount of leadership and familiarity. This can be really good for us because a lot of us are seasoned vets in the world of collegiate running, so we have an idea of what our team’s strengths are and what we need to work on,” Lewis said. “We also have goals cultivated that we are all pretty passionate about, and have been passionate about for the last three years. I think this will definitely be to our advantage.”
Lewis herself is dealing with an injury, and did not participate in the meet, but hopes to run at St. Olaf College. She was recently invited to participate in the 2017 NCAA Career in Sports forum, alongside junior track and field thrower Erin Bramble.
Running cross country for Winona State is not all work and no play, both the women’s and men’s teams know how to have fun in their collegiate running experience.
“Our men and women’s teams are super close and know how to have fun at practice. We are a very cohesive team,” Willenbrink said.
The men’s and women’s teams usually run at the same meets.
“My favorite thing about running as a Warrior is that I get to run alongside my best friends who are all extremely dedicated to the sport that we love. It’s a lot easier to train hard when you have dedicated people by your side with the same goal,” Lewis added.
The men’s and women’s teams will both compete next at the St. Olaf Invitational at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16. The meet will be held in Northfield, Minn.