SDSU cross country opens season Saturday…
South Dakota State opens the men’s and women’s cross country seasons on Saturday, Sept. 3, in Grand Forks, N.D., for the UND Ron Pynn Invitational…
The South Dakota State men’s cross country team, the two-time defending Summit League Men’s Champion, was voted as the preseason favorite to capture the 2011 men’s title in a vote of the league’s 10 head coaches.
In the men’s poll, the Jackrabbits received five first-place votes en route to 75 points and edged out Southern Utah, which received four first-place votes and 71 points.
“The competitiveness of the league is much better,” said head coach Rod DeHaven. “The league is much deeper. We are excited with where we are at and with our preseason ranking.”
The Jacks welcome back three of its four all-league selections from last year’s championship team, including first team selection Michael Krsnak. Also with Krsnak, SDSU returns a pair of second team performers in Jared Ailts and Greg Vollmer.
“We are potentially returning five guys who have been all-conference in the past,” said DeHaven. “Krsnak was a whisker away from being in the NCAA meet as an individual last year. He has stepped up his training this summer and could make a run at it again this year. Vollmer and Ailts both played big roles for us last season, as well. Kyle Schmidt was 21st a year ago in The Summit League meet and has had a big summer of running. Greg Beesley, who did not run last fall, was an all-conference athlete and Trent Lusignan has the capability of being one of the top freshmen in our league this year. That is exciting.”
SDSU men’s cross country also opened the season ranked eighth in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) regional preseason poll. The Jacks are members of the Midwest Region, which also has the top-ranked team in the nation, Oklahoma State.
On the women’s side, South Dakota State was voted to finish in sixth-place with 43 points.
The Jackrabbits finished in sixth place last season and are voted to find the same slot at the end of this season.
“We are looking to try and move up from where we were a year ago,” DeHaven said. “Although we had some surprising performances and had people improve, we were disappointed to be sixth. That is not what this program wants to be. We have some young people coming in that can help us get further up, but other schools in the conference have improved, as well. Our job is not going to get any easier.”
The SDSU women’s team returns one all-league selection in Erin Hargens, a first team selection.
“We are going to rely a lot on Hargens, who was third at The Summit League meet,” said DeHaven. “We think Tera Potts will make a leap forward from where she was last year. And getting Danielle Burke back for a sixth year will help us quite a bit, as well. We are hoping our freshman will make some big improvements and score for us. Courtney Neubert and Laura Lawton have the pedigrees that could lend them to be contributors for us as first-year students.”
“It will be a work-in-progress most of the season and hopefully it will all come together in Tulsa at the end of October,” DeHaven said.
The lone home meet for the Jackrabbits this season is the SDSU Classic, set to take place on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 9:30 a.m.