Cross country preps for conference championship

Cross country preps for conference championship

Austin Wallert, Sports Reporter

The Winona State University men’s and women’s cross-country teams wrapped up their regular season last Saturday as they competed in the Lewis Crossover meet.

“(The Lewis Crossover meet is) the biggest D II meet in the country over at Lewis University; there will be roughly 35 teams there. Also, the quality there, there’s at least five nationally ranked womens’ teams and there are 11 nationally ranked men’s teams,” Coach Zach Kughn said.  “So, we are talking about the biggest meet in the country as far as the level of competition.”

The men and women faced this meet head on as the women finished 11th out of 36 teams, and the men finished 28th of 34th teams.

.As they prepare for the conference championship, Kughn touched on the surprises and highlights of the season.

“Biggest surprise on our women’s side would be one of our freshmen in Nikki Kelley. She was certainly a decent high school runner, but she had an awesome summer, really just paid attention to detail,” Kughn said. “Right off the bat at our first meet at Augie, she was our number two runner, and leading up to that in most of our work outs she was around the 10th to 15th girl. So, for that race to be number two is a huge surprise, but then she continued to perform at that level so now it’s not a surprise anymore, we just know she’s good, so it’s been huge to have her.”

On the men’s side, sophomore Josh Jarpey has impressesd.

“He was our number one by the end of last season, but what it meant to be number last year compared to this year is a lot different,” Kughn said. “He’s been really competitive with guys who are national caliber, so we don’t care what race we are in, he’s going to be a contender for the individual title.”

The constant mileage and hard work in practice seems to be worth the steps as both teams continue to improve.

As for the women, they have seen the top spot already once this season, which Kughn called the “highlight of the season”.

“They won in a pretty dominating fashion. We had five in the top nine and just having the tight pack we had,” Kughn said. “Our top four were only nine seconds apart so the top five spread was less than a minute, so that was pretty cool.”

The Warriors now prepare for their conference championship meet which takes place on Saturday, Oct. 26.