USD cross country teams 5th at Summit League Championships

Sophomore Jeff Mettler placed fifth and earned first-team all-conference honors to lead the South Dakota men's cross country team to a fifth-place finish at the Summit League Championships, which were held Saturday in Tulsa, OK. The Coyote women, led by a 16th-place finish by junior Jessica Brandli, also placed fifth at the event with 132 points.

"We feel like we had a successful meet," USD head coach Dan Fitzsimmons said. "It's not quite where we wanted to be, but we realized how close we were to being in second, in the men's race especially. It gives us something to build off of going into indoor and outdoor track."

The Coyote men finished with 116 points in their Summit League debut, but were just six points out of fourth and 21 points out of second.

Mettler capped off an outstanding fall season with a top-five finish. He ran a time of 25:15.20 to finish fifth, just two seconds out of fourth. He became the first Coyote cross country runner to earn All-Summit League honors.

Junior Ethan Marquardt had another solid run, placing 21st with a time of 26:09.90. Sophomore Travis Brenner (Yankton) wasn't far behind, taking 26th with a time of 26:23.90. Freshman Taylor Huseman also had a good run after running a 26:27.90 which placed him 29th Junior Eric Thien also had a solid performance, crossing the line in 35th at 26:48.30.

"We had really good performances," Fitzsimmons said. "Jeff Mettler was first-team all-conference after an outstanding race. We did pretty much what we planned on; you just couldn't predict where some of the individual runners from other schools were going to finish."

Brandli led the Coyote women's team for a second straight meet. Her 16th-place finish put her just two spots away from all-conference honors. She ran a time of 22:48.15, less than two seconds out of 15th.

Junior Carol Miller had one of her best runs of the season, placing 26th with a time of 23:09.67. Sophomore Britni Waller was 28th at 23:11.42, while senior Emma Ladwig (Gayville) was 30th at 23:20.26. Sophomore Ashleigh Giese was 32nd after running a time of 23:25.65.

"We had a lot of depth," Fitzsimmons said. "If you look at the conference as a whole, our seventh runner finished higher than any other seventh runner in the conference. Jessica Brandli had an outstanding race. Britni Waller had her best race of the season as did Carol Miller."

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