The men’s cross country team opened the season with a victory while the women’s team placed third overall at the University of Central Oklahoma Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 7.
Head coach Russ Jewett believes the teams did “fairly well.”
“Obviously, the victory with the men felt better than third place with the women,” Jewett said. “But our women’s team competed pretty well. We did not race Piper, our number one runner. She had a little minor injury, so we held her out. That doesn’t help, but I’m sure those other teams had runners they held out as well. Anyway, I felt really good about the men. We had a really good pack mentality and executed a race plan where we raced in packs or groups and I think that’s very helpful.”
According to Jewett, the teams stayed focus during the middle of the race which can be challenging at times.
“Oh, I think that both of our guys had a really good middle of the race,” Jewett said. “When you get really, really, fatigued in the middle of the race (and) you’re not real close to the finish, you kind of lose concentration. So, save your energy for the last part of the race, but I think particularly our top five guys and then a couple others did a really good job of that, I think, and that’s not easy to do. So, I was pleased with that. Bryce Grahn, I just want to point him out, he was our number one runner and he won the race and I just think he had just an outstanding race.”
There were a few competitors on the men and women’s teams that stood out to Jewett during the competition.
“Well, I think on the men’s team, I would say Connar Southard had an extremely good race,” Jewett said. “He has not raced much cross country at all, he was hurt last year… He’s had a really great couple of races. On the women’s side, our number one runner was Cassidy Westhoff, she had a very strong race, but I would also say Hannah, our number two runner in this race without Cassidy or without Piper in there. Hannah Honeyman had an outstanding race as well. She wasn’t all that far behind Cassidy… So, I would point those two out.”
The cross country team’s next meet is the “Missouri Southern Stampede” on Saturday, Sept. 21 in Joplin.
“… Missouri Southern, that meet is a heck of a lot more challenging and bigger than this meet,” Jewett said. “This was a pretty lowkey meet, not a lot of great teams there but totally different story at the Missouri Sothern meet. There will be a whole bunch of teams and quite a few really strong teams, so we’ll really be tested there, and we’ll find out what we’re made of. That’s a great opportunity to sort of gauge us against previous years. We go to that meet every year, so it’s a good benchmark for us.”