The Pittsburg State University men’s and women’s cross-country teams travelled to Joplin to compete in and battle for a spot to nationals in the 2019 NCAA Division II Central Regional competition on Saturday, Nov. 9. The women’s team took third place and qualified for the national championship while the men placed ninth.
Head coach Russ Jewett believes both teams competed well.
“(I think we did) pretty well,” Jewett said. “We reached our objectives. The women’s team, the goal was to qualify to nationals. We were one probably six or seven teams that had a chance at that third qualifying spot and no one else was (going to) beat the top two teams. But we did that, and we did it kind of like the same way we won the conference championship, everybody did their job… So, I was really proud of them.”
While the men did not qualify to the national championship, Jewett was still proud of the team and was happy to see them place in the top 10.
“…On the men’s side, we finished top ten which was our objective, our goal for this year,” Jewett said. “That was the best we could do, and we did it. We were ninth.”
On the women’s team, senior Piper Misse place sixth, redshirt junior Cassidy Westhoff placed 14th, sophomore Hannah Honeyman placed 33rd, senior Kari Blattner placed 48th, and junior Andrea Chestnut placed 84th.
On the men’s team, sophomore Nathan Jones placed 36th, junior Donte Howard placed 41st, and junior Bryce Grahn placed 47th.
One competitor on the women’s team had a large impact on the team making it to nationals according to Jewett.
“On the women’s team, individuals I would say Andrea Chestnut. You haven’t heard her name all year, she hasn’t been in the top five until this meet, and she came through and is a big reason why we qualified to national. (She) had the… probably the best cross-country race of her career…”
Several competitors on the men’s team stood out to Jewett during the meet.
“… I’d say Donte Howard (stood out to me)..,” Jewett said. “He had the best race of his season when it really counted. He was one that stood out the most, I would say. Nathan Jones was right there too. He was our number one, he’s not ever been our number one runner before. So, it was our best team race of the season for the men’s team and those two guys were a big reason for that.”
According to Jewett, the team has achieved the goal for the season.
“… We’ll assess it and have a goal,” Jewett said. “But realistically, we know we’re a marginal qualifier. I’m proud that we qualified but there are a lot of teams that are probably better than us going to the national championship. So, to some extent we’ve reached our season goal by making it to nationals and representing Pitt State at nationals…”
The NCAA Division-II National Championships will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23 in Sacramento, California.