Through pouring rain and brutal wind the men’s and women’s cross country team competed in its first scored meet of the season at the 28th Annual Roy Griak Invitational Saturday in Minnesota.
Against some stiff competition, the men and women raced their way to 19th and 15th, respectively.
“I had hoped the competition would pull the guys along, but the second pack just didn’t get out fast enough. There was a huge break between the two packs,” said head coach Matt Kaczor.”I’m not disappointed; we just didn’t take advantage of the opportunity and rise up to the competition. We’ve just got some work to do.”
Sophomore Nate Ghena led the men, coming in 80th place at 25:38 for the 8K. Ethan Lievense and Spenser Nousain composed the rest of the front pack, finishing right behind Ghena at 89th with 25:43 and 93rd at 25:46.
“The three of us ran like we did at the Spartan Invite,” Ghena said. “We were right in the thick of it the whole time and tried to move up throughout the race. Our front pack probably could’ve moved forward though and our second pack could’ve been tighter.”
Junior Tanner Pesonen paced the second pack, placing 135th and running 26:26, sophomore Monte Scott placed 138th with a 26:38, freshman Casey Voisin ran a 26:40 for 140th place, and junior Alec Hewett came in 145th with a 26:52.
The enormous break between the two packs cost the team, Kaczor said, and in order to find success towards the latter end of the season, the gap really needs to be cinched down. Kaczor has yet to open up junior Kyle Stacks, who is a top returner from last year and will likely be with the men’s top three.
“The girls ran really well today,” Kaczor said. “If you look at how loaded this is, as there are close to ten teams that will qualify for NCAA, I’m pretty happy with how we ran, especially not at full strength.”
Led by senior Krista Parks, who’s 22:03 6K finish earned her a 47th place finish, the girls team beat out a number of ranked teams. CMU slipped 11 points ahead of Weber State, who is the fourth ranked team in the Mountain Region.
“This is the highest ranked team I’ve beaten since I’ve coached, and we still have Breanne Lesnar to open up,” Kaczor said.
The ladies also beat the 8th and 13th ranked teams in the Mountain Region, and the 13th and 15th ranked teams in the Midwest Region.
Sophomore Kelly Schubert finished next after parks, notching 68th place and a 22:21 time. Splitting the difference, between the front and back pack, sophomore Alyssa Dyer came in at 96th place and ran a 22:38. Junior Abbey Kelto and freshman Katie Weiler wrapped up the top five, coming in at 115th and 124th place, respectively. Esther Bell finished in 146th, and Jacquee Overbeek placed 179th.
“There are a lot of girls coming back from injuries to fill our holes, so we’re looking good for championship season,” said Parks. “Everything is falling into place as the season progresses.”