Jackrabbit cross country ready for home race

Image from www.gojacks.com.

BROOKINGS – The South Dakota State cross country team will run its lone home race of the season Friday night at the SDSU Invite at Edgebrook Golf Course in Brookings.

SDSU will be joined by North Dakota State, North Dakota and the University of Sioux Falls. The races start at 6 p.m. and the women will run a 5,000 meter race and the men will run 8,000 meters. SDSU head coach Rod DeHaven said his teams are excited to race at home.

“I think for cross country programs, anytime you get to race at home, regardless of whether it’s a meg invitational or something smaller like we’re going to see this Friday with the SDSU Classic, it’s still a nice experience for student athletes,” DeHaven said. “To be able to just not have to get into a van or a bus and travel multiple hours and get out and run. 

“Looking forward to that and having NDSU and UND, and Sioux Falls in, but particularly the two Summit League schools, you get a little bit of a better idea of where the lay of the land is. There were some coaching changes at both of those schools. Some new faces, which everyon is going to have those. This will kind of provide a fresh outlook on things and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to compete at home.” DeHaven said.

SDSU opened the this past weekend at the Augustana Twilight in Sioux Falls. 

The Jackrabbit men won the team event and had three of the top five finishers. Junior Thomas Brueckman finished in third with a time of 19 minutes and 42.80 seconds. Sophomore Daniel Burkhalter came in fourth (19:43.80) and Joseph Minor finished in fifth (19:47.20). 

Junior Ben Olson came in seventh (19:51.50) and grad senior Gabe Peters came in 10th (20:03.11). 

“[Having three of the top five finishers] is great,” DeHaven said. “… In a month no one is even going to remember we ran in Sioux Falls, let’s be real. Augustana is a quality, highly ranked Division II team and came out and ran pretty tough. I think it was good for our guys to have that, to go into a race and be challenged, and I think they responded very well. 

“Tom leads us, but I think the performance of the night was Daniel Burkhalter, who is a young man who has had a lot of health issues as related to cross country, and for him it was a breakthrough race and it was awesome to see that. We got steady performances from Ben Olson and Joseph Minor and Gabe Peters. We ran all of our freshman unattached and I think they would all say they had solid efforts, but I’d say they’d give themselves B’s or C’s probably. I think for a first race and what we’ve done, they were in a good spot.”

The Jackrabbit women came in fourth out of the 27 teams at the Augustana Twilight. Sophomore Leah Hansen won the individual race for SDSU with a time of 18:15.17. Senior Anna Donay came in fourth clocking a 18:23.04 time. Junior Jessica Christoffer and senior Oksana Johnson finished in 18th and 39th, respectively.

“[Hansen] executed her race plan very well and largely it was just hanging out front,” DeHaven said. “Run as hard as you need to and that’s that. It was a tight, exciting race and good to come out on top and move on to the next one. Same thing with Anna Donnay. Little bit different strategies, she kind of started out slower and weaved her way through the traffic, and traffic was an issue, to set up a course under the lights is not easy and Augustana did a great job of that.

“ … In general the women’s team, that’s about what we kind of expected where we’d be at this point, given there’s a lot more that we can do to move the needle for us, we’re in a good spot. … I think sometimes you just need to get an event in sometimes. Largely, it’s a pretty young group and they need that experience and that adrenaline to flow, to know what it feels like and get a good indicator of where they’re at.”

The Jacks have four races after the SDSU Classic before the Summit League Championships, NCAA Regionals and NCAA Championships. DeHaven said Friday’s race will be good for the team’s to get things going. 

“[The main goal] is to get through this week as healthy as possible and get another race under our belts and see where we stack up. The intensity is probably going to be at a little bit of a different level when you only have four teams. Nothing attracts a crowd like the event we had in Sioux Falls. The overall level of competition will probably be high, but the intensity will probably feel a bit different



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