USD women cross country finish 8th

USD women cross country finish 8th
The South Dakota Women's Cross Country Team, led by the All-American performances of seniors Aimee Nielsen and Kaylee Keating, finished eighth at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships on a warm and muggy Saturday, Nov. 19 at Prado Park in Chico, CA. The eighth-place finish is the second-best in Coyote school history (6th, 1998).

South Dakota men's team members, Tony Turgeon and Tyler Wetering, also earned All-American honors.

Nielsen and Keating, both seniors, earned their first All-American honors in cross country and became the sixth and seventh women All-Americans in school history. Nielsen of Mason City, IA, finished 18th by covering the 6,000-meter course in 22:06.1 while Keating of Sioux Falls, was 33rd in 22.30.8.

Nielsen's performance was the fifth-best in school history (Molly Wedel, third, 1999; Wedel, fourth, 1998; Tina Fenske, 10th, 1998; and Kathy Young, 13th, 1991). Nielsen and Keating became USD's first dual women All-Americans since 1998 (Wedel, Fenske).

On the men's side, senior Tony Turgeon of Sioux Falls was seventh with a clocking of 31.44 in the 10,000-meter race and junior Tyler Wetering of Sioux Falls was 23rd in 32.30. Turgeon, who finished ninth at the North Central Region meet, and Wetering ran as individuals at nationals.

Turgeon's finish is tied for the third-best in school history (Dave Heffren, third, 1965; Matt Hoyt, sixth, 1998; Joel Fenske, seventh, 1997 and Chad Feeldy, seventh, 1998). Turgeon is the first repeat men's All-American since USD had four repeat All-Americans (Hoyt, Fenske, Feeldy, and Mike Gade) in 1998. Turgeon and Wetering became the 24th and 25th All-Americans in Coyote men's cross country history.

"Tony (Turgeon) ran one of the best races that I have seen a USD runner run while I have been a coach. He ran an intelligent race in less than favorable conditions (80 degrees and high humidity)," said Rob Kinnunen, USD's head men's and women's cross country coach. "I was also impressed with Tyler's (Wetering) effort. He finished strong in the race," said Kinnunen.

As for the Coyote women's squad, Kinnunen noted that Nielsen and Keating ran smart races and the young runners on the team also came up big at nationals.

"Amy (Nielsen) and Kaylee (Keating) had strong performances. They ran intelligent races by staying behind the pack and then picking off runners as they moved toward the finish line."

"I am extremely pleased with the efforts of all our student-athletes," said Kinnunen. "We set our goals of placing in the top eight and trying to get four individual All-Americans. We did that, and for me, that is quite an individual and team accomplishment."

The other USD women's team finishers included: freshman Lexi Dunlop (Woodbine, IA), 89th, 23:54.3; freshman Kelsey Maloney (Sioux Falls), 92nd, 23:58.1; freshman Allison Duba (Sioux Falls), 127th, 24:38.6; junior Amy Steckelberg (Yankton), 130th, 24:44.5; and freshman Jessica Lundgren (Truman, MN), 146th, 25:13.7.

USD track and field/cross country director and coach Dave Gottsleben also made the trip with the USD squad and was pleased with the team's effort. "This group of student-athletes had a phenomenal performance today," said Gottsleben. "They showed tremendous heart and stayed focused on their goals. We are proud of all our team members," he said.

Four of the top eight women's teams at nationals were representatives of the North Central Region.

"The performance of teams from the region shows how formidable teams from this region were this season. It is the best region in the country," said Gottsleben.

Women's Top-10 Teams: Adams State, 54; Grand Valley State, 69; Western State, 154; Chico State, 162; Colorado Mines, 194; Harding, 204; UC-San Diego, 225; South Dakota, 296; Wisconsin-Parkside, 319; and Indiana (PA), 323.

Men's Top-10 Teams: Western State, 51; Adams State, 108; Chico State, 127; Grand Valley State, 131; Saginaw Valley State, 218; Colorado Mines, 234; Wayne State (MI), 250; Abilene Christian, 253; Harding, 257; and Lock Haven, 272.

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