The women’s cross-country team won the MIAA Championships and the men placed sixth overall at the MIAA Championships on Saturday, Oct. 26 in Joplin, Missouri.
Head coach Russ Jewett is pleased with the women’s team and several of the runners stood out to Jewett during the competition.
“I think we did fairly well,” Jewett said. “(The women) won, doesn’t get much better than that… It was actually a very hard-fought battle. It was very rewarding. We had all (our) girls race really well and have a chance to win and they did that when it really counted. So, I’m really proud of them. Obviously, Piper Misse winning was a little extra icing on our cake and I’m really pleased and happy for her. She certainly deserves that. (This is) her second individual title, she won two years ago as well (and) placed very high last year. Kari Blattner had an awesome race as did Cassidy Westhoff, (she) was amazing also. The whole really did just great, so I’m really proud of the girls. The guy’s sixth place finish, not exactly where we had wanted to finish. We thought we could be as high as fourth if we ran really, really well which… as a team we didn’t. We had three or four guys run really well but did not hit on all cylinders… We placed the same place we placed last year. We scored fewer points, it’s a little tougher conference this year; the opponents are a little better than last year. But, anyway, we’ll move on and get ready for the regional meets. The season’s not over yet.”
On the men’s team, Jewett also noticed a few competitors that stood out to him.
“I think Bryce Grahn, he’s our number one, he had probably the best race of his season at the conference championship which means a lot,” Jewett said. “I would say Nathan Jones, who was our number two, and… this (was) a big race for him too (and) much better than he’s raced yet… Our next couple of guys also (stood out to me). Nick Ray, our team captain, had not been in our top five and he was number four for us this weekend. Connor Southard, he just kept better every week. He didn’t even race for us the last two years really and then now he’s a go to guy, number three on the team. So, (I’m) really proud of all those guys.”
The cross-country team’s next competition is NCAA Division-II Central Regional meet, which is on Saturday, Nov. 9 in Joplin, Missouri.
“Well, we’re still kind of looking at the opponents and what we’re up against for the regional meet,” Jewett said. “The top three teams qualify to nationals out of the region. That’s a pretty tall order for the women’s team and it’s a very tall order for the men’s team. So, we’ll have some goals and objectives. I’d certainly like to do better than we did last year with our men’s team at the region and… we don’t have a lot of depth on the men’s side. We redshirted some guys who got little illness and injury, but we’ll give it a go. The ladies will have a shot… There’s some really tough folks from the Northern Sun Conference and the Great American Conference that are (going to) be down there. So, it’ll be interesting.”