The men and women’s cross-country teams both placed fifth in the Missouri Southern State University Stampede on Saturday, Sept. 21 in Joplin.
Head coach Russ Jewett believes the teams raced well.
“Well, we had some goals and objectives for each team, and we reached almost all of those, so from that standpoint we were pretty pleased,” Jewett said. “You like to win everything, we didn’t. We were fifth place in each, but we were pretty pleased, I think, with how our teams competed (and) how they raced.”
Was there anything you saw that the teams did really well?
“Well, we had a race plan,” Jewett said. “We want you to go at a certain pace, we want you to be with this teammate or that teammate and especially on the women’s team, they followed that really to a T. In the hour leading up to the race is preparation time, it’s the warmup time. It’s a pretty important time (and) I think both teams did a pretty good job in terms of doing that when you’re in an environment that’s just kind of hectic and crazy, a lot of runner over there, (and) a lot of potential distractions. I think we avoided the distractions fairly well.”
On the women’s team, senior Piper Misse placed seventh and senior Cassidy Westhoff placed ninth.
On the men’s side, junior Bryce Grahn placed 20th, sophomore Ben Kahnk finished 39th, junior Dante Howard placed 42nd, sophomore Nathan Jones placed 45th, and sophomore Connar Southard placed 46th.
Several competitors on the men’s and women’s teams stood out to Jewett at the competition.
“Well, I would say Halle Helfrich on the women’s team (stood out to me),” Jewett said. “If you look, she’s our number five runner, ran 19 minutes or so but that was her best race of her cross-country career. She hasn’t run a whole lot of races for us and this is her third year, so really pleased with her. I thought Cassidy Westhoff had an outstanding race. Piper had a good race too; Cassidy really had an outstanding race I thought on the women’s side. On the men’s side, Bryce Grahn, our number one runner two weeks in a row, really proud of him. That was an outstanding effort. I would say Connor Southard, again his first five-mile race of his life and he was a solid number five for us. He did a great job. Nathan Jones kicked it up a notch from his last race he ran, and he really didn’t have a full year last year… I would say those are the ones that stand out to me.”
The Gorillas next competition is the Kansas Kim Rock Classic in Lawrence on Saturday, Oct. 5.
“…It’s going to be a different dynamic there,” Jewett said. “There won’t be near as many runners in that race. So, it will be similar to like our conference championship where you might have 80 to 100 runners in a race over five miles or 6k for women’s which is like 3.7 miles. It’s a good dynamic there of where runners are, the gaps between runners, it simulates the conference championship so racing well when there are gaps among competitors, that’s what we’ll be looking for there…”