Both the men and women’s cross-country teams finished fourth overall at the Kansas Rim Rock Classic on Saturday, Oct. 5.
On the women’s team, senior Piper Misse placed second, freshman Kari Blattner placed 22nd and sophomore Hannah Honeyman placed 24th.
On the men’s team, junior Bryce Grahn placed 12th, sophomore Ben Kahnk placed 15th, sophomore Nathan Jones finished 21st, and sophomore Connar Southard placed 25th.
Head coach Russ Jewett was proud of the teams for their effort and the way the adjusted to the conditions of the competition.
“I thought we did okay considering the schedule change, the weather, (and) the course conditions..,” Jewett said. “I think we handled that fairly well, not perfectly, but we wanted to be in the top… five teams for the women and after a couple teams bowed out and left and went home, we were still fourth. So, I was pretty pleased with that. Piper Misse had an outstanding race. I would say probably Hallie Helford continues to strengthen herself as a collegiate cross country runner… I’d say Kari Blattner took at least a half a step, if not a whole step, forward… (This was) their first six (kilometer) ever… They did a really good job.”
Along with the competitors on the women’s team, several of the competitors on the men’s team stood out to Jewett during the Kansas Rim Rock Classic.
“(There was) a very solid effort throughout (on the men’s team),” Jewett said. “Bryce Grahn, he was our number one runner again, he had a slight lapse in concentration… about three quarters of the way through but then he kicked really hard the last half mile or so and regained a good position. But I’d say he had a pretty strong race. Ben Kahnk, one of his best races so far (out of) the three we’ve had. Connar Southard still continues to impress based on his lack of experience in cross country before this year. He had a really outstanding race I thought.”
The next competition for the cross-country teams is the MIAA Championships on Saturday, Oct. 26. In previous years, the cross-country teams have had only one weekend to prepare for the conference championships but this year they have two consecutive weekends which, according to Jewett, was done on purpose.
“Well, that’s our conference meet (and) it’s three weeks away,” Jewett said. “We’ve never had two weekends in a row before the conference championship where we didn’t race. We are doing this on purpose, (we’re) going to give it a try and I think it’s gonna help us really focus on preparation, what we need to fine tune, going into a conference championship. But, until we see another weekend or two of competition from the other folks at conference, we’ll wait a while to talk about what we’re looking for our guess. We want to compete our best, obviously. That’s what we train for, is to compete at the conference and the regionals and hopefully the nationals, but we’ll get there.”