USD women’s cross country claims its fourth straight title

USD women's cross country claims its fourth straight title
The nationally-ranked South Dakota women's cross country team made history at the North Central Conference Championships on Saturday, Oct. 22, and they did it in a big way.

For the fourth consecutive year, the women's cross country team claimed the North Central Conference title, scoring 32 points at the league meet held Oct. 22 in Grand Forks, ND. The South Dakota men's team, led by individual titlist Tony Turgeon, was second in the team standings with 49 points.

� For the first time in school history, the Coyotes claimed both the men's and women's individual titles in the same year. Aimee Nielsen of Mason City, IA, won the women's race by covering the 6,000-meter course in a career-best of 21:41.42. She became the first women's runner in USD school history to capture an individual title.

USD senior Tony Turgeon of Sioux Falls won the men's title by covering the 8,000-meter course in a career-best time of 24:30.64. He is the seventh USD men's titlist and the first since Matt Hoyt won the title for USD in 1998. USD's Tyler Wetering, a junior from Sioux Falls, finished second in 24:33.21, which is also the best performance in his career. Turgeon and Wetering recorded two of the four best 8K times in league meet history.

The USD women, which placed five runners in the top-16, cruised to a title, finishing with 32 points and well ahead of second-place North Dakota, which had 47 team points. The rest of the women's team standings included Nebraska-Omaha, 69; Augustana, 79; Minnesota-Duluth, 159; St. Cloud State, 170; and Minnesota State, 181.

USD's Kaylee Keating, a senior from Sioux Falls, finished fourth in a career-best 22:20.82 by turning in her best performance at a league meet.

A trio of freshmen also made a big contribution to the Coyotes' team title.� Freshman Jessica Lundgren of Truman, MN, was fifth in 22:26.02 while freshman Lexi Dunlop of Woodbine, IA, was sixth in 22:27.33. Kelsie Maloney, also a freshman from Sioux Falls, was 16th in 23:00.23. �

Other USD finishers and their placing included: Amy Steckelberg (Yankton), 20th, 23:12.86; Allison Duba (Sioux Falls), 33rd, 23:46.63; Mary Bennett (Scotland), 49th, 25:08.83 and Amanda Roeman (Dell Rapids), 55th, 25:31.63.

"This is by far the best performance that we have had as a team on the women's side since I have been at USD," said Coyotes' head coach Rob Kinnunen. "Simply put, our women's team had the will to win. Amy (Nielsen) had a phenomenal performance in winning the first-ever individual title in our women's program. In addition, our freshman really stepped up. Without their effort, we would not have won today's meet," added Kinnunen.

The nationally-ranked Coyote men's team, led by Turgeon's individual title, improved on its conference finish from a year ago. The Coyotes, which was third last year, finished second in team points with 49. Minnesota State won the team title with 41 points. The rest of the men's team standings included Minnesota-Duluth, third, 66 points; Augustana, fourth, 70 points; North Dakota, fifth, 148 points, and St. Cloud State, sixth, 174 points.

In the men's race, USD claimed the top-two spots and had five runners finish in the top-17. Aside from Turgeon and Wetering, red shirt freshman Matt Yaggie of Mission Hill, was 14th in 26:00.09; senior Matt Dewald of Yankton, finished 15th in 26:03.47; and senior Nate Seier of Dubuque, IA was 17th in 26:20.29. Other USD finishers included freshman Dustin Letcher of Freeman, 33rd, 27:07.77; sophomore Josh Blue of Council Bluffs, IA, 34th, 27:12.25; and sophomore Doug Galbavy of Lennox, 40th, 27:36.60.

� "We thought we had a chance to win the men's meet but we finished just a little short. The performance by Turgeon and Wetering was amazing. To run as fast as they did is a credit to their work ethic," added Kinnunen.

Both the USD men's and women's teams will advance to the North Central Region meet in Hays, KS, on Nov. 5.

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