Winona State University’s men’s and women’s cross country teams kicked off their season at the annual Auggie Twilight meet in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The Warrior women finished seventh out of 25 teams, and the Warrior men finished 13th out of 26 teams.
“Terrain-wise, this is the easiest course you’re going to find, it’s at a soccer complex” coach Zach Kughn said. “It’s as flat as can be and the grass is well taken care of.”
The Auggie Twilight is a preseason meet for the Warrior teams as it is shorter than a normal meet with the women running a 5k and the men running four miles.
Looking ahead at the season at large, both the men and women’s teams have set the same goal of finishing top three in the conference and, top-five at regionals.
“I let the team set their goals independently of me, I view my job as helping them reach their goals,” Kughn said. “If I try to impose too much of what I’m trying to do, they’re not bought in necessarily, you have them set the goals so that they can’t complain with how hard the work outs are.”
With the men’s team finishing last season at ninth in the conference, a top-three finish is a rather large jump in improvement.
“We certainly feel like we improved a ton, actually I know we have based on the improvement of times compared to last year” Kughn said.
Heading into the year, Kughn does have an abundance of returning runners and new runners, which makes for a variety of ages on the team.
“A big difference in cross country compared to other team sports is our sport is your sports punishment,” Kughn.
With the first race of the year under their belts, it will be interesting to see if the hard work and team chemistry pays off.
Their next meet is the Bulldog Invite slated for Sept. 14 in Duluth, Minnesota.