The South Dakota State University cross country teams begin championship racing season Saturday by competing at the 2021 Summit League Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The event is set to kick off with the men’s 8,000-meter race at 10 a.m., followed by the women’s 6K race at 11 a.m. The championships will be held at Holland Hall in Tulsa.
The Jackrabbit men’s team will be in search of its sixth consecutive Summit League title and and 10th overall. The SDSU women also will look to defend their team title from a season ago, while Jackrabbit sophomore Leah Hansen will attempt to repeat as the women’s individual champion.
Another team title by the SDSU men would better the league’s longest streak of five consecutive men’s team titles by Southern Utah from 1997-2001.
2020-21 CHAMPIONSHIPS RECAP
For the first time since joining The Summit League in 2008, both Jackrabbit cross country squads captured league titles in the same season during an abbreviated 2020-21 campaign, running to victories March 5, 2021, in Macomb, Illinois.
Leah Hansen took first in the women’s 6K race in 21 minutes, 45.60 seconds to lead a pack of Jacks to the finish line. Ellie Friesen followed right behind Hansen in second place with a time of 21:55.69, with Anna Donnay in third with a 21:58.00 clocking and Cailee Peterson finishing fourth in 22:14.10.
Jessica Christoffer took 12th with a time of 22:51.50, Janean Hanka finished in 16th in 23:07.23, Bridget Henne ran a 23:23.30 for 17th and Malorie Schmoll rounded out the Jackrabbit finishers with a 24:03.80 for 23rd place.
At the 2020-21 championship meet, Joseph Minor-Williams took runner-up in the men’s 8K race with a time of 25 minutes, 1.49 seconds. Thomas Breuckman followed with 25:03.69 for third, Ben Olson ran a 25:05.28 for fourth, Gabe Peters placed sixth with a 25:21.21 and Max Selbach finished in seventh in 25:24.08 to round out the scoring for the Jacks with 22 points.
Carter Knaus finished just outside of the top 10 in 11th with a personal-best 25:45.31 and Mason McDonald finished in 12th in 25:52.02. Alex Auch was next in 13th, running the race in 25:56.20, and Michael Schwinghamer brought in a 20th-place finish in 26:37.65.
LAST TIME OUT
Both Jackrabbit squads faced off against some of the top teams in the region — and nation — in competitions Oct. 15.
The Jackrabbit men’s cross country team competed in two races at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational and were led by finishes from Josh Becker and Gabe Peters.
Becker, a sophomore from Osseo, Wisconsin, finished the 8,000-meter B race first for the Jacks, placing 40th with a time of 25 minutes, 38 seconds.
Blake Iverson finished just outside of the top-50, finishing in 52nd place in 25:45.7. Junior Alex Auch (71st, 26:14.7), sophomore Carter Knaus (76th, 26:20.7) and freshman Nathan Notgrass (84th, 27:02.4) rounded out the Jackrabbits’ top five, followed by Michael Schwinghamer (87th, 27:20.3). A total of 92 runners finished the prelim race.
The Jackrabbits finished seventh out of eight teams in the B standings with 159 points. Boise State won the B race with 30 points, followed by Michigan State with 57 points and Michigan with 76 points.
In the A race, Gabe Peters, a senior from Worthing, finished in 135th place with a time of 24:44.1 to lead the Jacks in a field that included numerous nationally ranked teams.
Rounding out the scoring for the Jackrabbits were Max Selbach (162nd, 25:04.4), Daniel Burkhalter (181st, 25:19.3), Ben Olson (192nd, 25:29.9) and Thomas Breuckman (200th, 25:41.8).
The team finished 30th out of 32 teams with 835 points. Iowa State won the event with 88 points, Stanford finished just behind with 104 points and Tulsa had 160 points.
Leah Hansen crossed the finish line in fourth place individually to help lead the South Dakota State wome’’s cross country team to a fourth-place finish in the team standings of the Red race at the Bradley Pink Invitational in Peoria, Illinois.
The sophomore from Willmar, Minnesota, finished the 6,000-meter course at Newman Golf Course in 20 minutes and 52.0 seconds for her third top-five finish of the season. Anna Donnay was next for the Jackrabbits, crossing the line in 21:43.6 for 31st place.
Jessica Christoffer finished just outside of the top 50, covering the course in 53rd place with a time of 22:06.4. Cailee Peterson (64th, 22:14.9), Bailey Dergan (77th, 22:20.9) and Caitlin Bright (95th, 22:30.2) rounded out the scoring for the Jackrabbits. A total of 286 runners and 37 teams competed in the Red race.
Nebraska claimed the team title with 122 points, followed by Iowa (136) and host Bradley (207). South Dakota State edged the University of South Dakota for fourth place, 229-242.
In the 6K White race held earlier in the afternoon, Malorie Schmoll led the way for the Jackrabbits by finishing in 25th place of the 207 runners competing with a time of 23:42.4. Kasey Klocek clocked in just outside of the top-50, finished in the course in 24:09.4 for 53rd place.
Closing out the top five was Grace Waage (82nd, 24:40.7), Janean Hanka (93rd, 24:51.4), and Hannah Neusch (99th, 25:02.9). The Jacks finished the white race with 314 points for 10th place of 36 teams in the team standings.
The Jackrabbit men head into the championship season ranked 10th in the Oct. 18 edition of the Midwest Region rankings conducted by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association. SDSU, which began the season ranked sixth in the region, moved up one spot following the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational.
The Jackrabbits are the lone Summit League team in the men’s rankings.
In the women’s division, the Jackrabbits slipped one spot in the rankings after their performance at the Bradley Pink Invitationals, placing 12th in the region. SDSU opened the season with a 12th-place showing in the preseason poll.
Both Jackrabbit cross country squads have been picked to repeat as Summit League champions, according to preseason polls conducted in August among the league’s head coaches.
SDSU received six of the nine first-place votes and finished with 60 points, narrowly topping North Dakota State by a single point in the preseason poll.
Senior Anna Donnay was nominated as one of two Jackrabbits among the Summit League’s Women’s Athletes to Watch. Donnay took third overall at the 2020 league championships with a time of 21:58, helping the Jackrabbits secure league title and a low total of 22 points.
Sophomore Leah Hansen was the second nominee for the women’s squad as last year she earned All-League honors as the individual champion at the 2020 League Championship with a time of 21:45.60. Then, Hansen went on to claim a berth to the NCAA National Championships where she recorded a season-best mark in the 6K of 21:40.60.
The Jackrabbit men are the odds-on favorite to win a sixth consecutive Summit League crown after garnering seven of the eight first-place votes in the preseason poll. SDSU finished with 49 points, followed by North Dakota State with 42.
Juniors Joseph Minor-Williams and Thomas Breuckman were selected as Summit League Men’s Athletes to Watch for SDSU. Minor-Williams was the individual champion at the Summit League Cross Country Championships in 2019 along with leading the Jackrabbits at the 2020 Summit League Championships with his runner-up 8K effort of 25:01.5, aiding the low 22-point championship team total.
Breuckman earned all-league honors for his third-place finish at the 2020 league championships. Also during the 2020 season, Brueckman finished as the Jacks’ No. 2 runner in both meets the squad competed during a pandemic-shortened campaign that was moved to the spring.