By Steph Stanislao
Ending last season with their very first Summit League Championship, the NDSU Women’s Cross Country team showed that they are far from easy competition. After taking on the No. 1 spot in the conference, the team headed into the NCAA Midwest Regional Tournament with confidence, and finished the season ranked No. 13 in the Midwest region.
When looking at how this next season compares to the last, women’s cross country team head coach, Ryun Godfrey, explained, “Well we have a lot of returners, so on paper, it looks a lot similar to last year’s team. We have a really good outlook on the season. Since we won it the year before, I think we’ll get picked as the preseason favorites. We might be a bit of a target, but that’s okay. That’s a good place to be.”
This season, the team will be led by key runners Heidi Peterson, Maddie McClellan and Faith Kruchowski. These veteran team members were vital to the success of last season, and will be hard to beat again this year.
Although the Bison’s most difficult competitor, Southern Utah, is no longer in the Summit League, the team will still be facing the Jackrabbits, of South Dakota State, who generally have a pretty strong team. The Bison will also have to be on the look-out for South Dakota, who entered the summit league last season and is quickly improving.
To get in shape and ready to face these tough teams, the Bison Cross Country Team is in their “base-building” phase. The team itself is not doing any specific workouts, but each runner is logging several miles on her own. The team also works hard throughout the year to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet.
When asking the head coach what goals he had for the season, Godfrey stated, “We want to finish higher than we did for the NCAA meet, and now that I mention that, we were the 13th, so we want to move up in those rankings. The NCAA Midwest Regional meet is big, it’s the Oklahoma, Oklahoma State’s, Minnesota, Iowa State’s, Missouri’s. You know, it covers a big range of the country. There are 30 plus teams in the region, so we were definitely in the top, but to improve on that would be big. And then, we have some freshmen coming in, and it’d be great to see them make a good transition.”
Godfrey mentioned how the team’s chemistry helped contribute to their success last season. “…they get along real well. I think the successful teams have a chemistry about them. And, yet, there are a lot of individuals on the team and a lot of differences between them. But, yet when they’re together they make things work. As a team, they’ve always been really cohesive.”
The NDSU Women’s Cross Country Team will be competing in their first meet, The Bison Invitational, on August 31, at 5 p.m. in Fargo at Rose Creek.