The cross country team’s top runners raced last Friday in the NCAA Midwest Regionals at Oklahoma State University for the last race of their season.
The meet was a qualifier for the NCAA National in Terre Haute, Indiana. The men’s team competed in a 10K race, and the women’s team competed in a 6K.
Top finishers for the men’s team were senior Landon Skelly with a time of 32:48; freshman Roland Prenzler who finished in 33:17.3; and senior Austin Woodard who finished with a time of 33:17.3.
Leading the women’s team was senior Keri Burmester — 23:29.1; freshman Natalia Rodriguez — 23:42.1; and sophomore Emily Ellis — 24:11.1.
The meet was the last for the season until next semester and for freshmen who had never run a 10K.
Assistant Coach CeCe Moore, who joined the coaching staff in September, complimented the team’s performance at the away meet.
“I think overall the team did really well, and we had some of our top runners in the race, and this was probably the strongest they’ve been in the entire season, so I think they had a pretty good day and had a pretty good meet,” Moore said.
On the men’s team there were three runners — Woodard, Prenzler and Skelly.
Friday marked Prenzler’s first time competing in a 10K race.
“I really didn’t know what to make of it because it was my first time, but coach was happy with my performance and the other guys did a really good job. For me, I was happy with my place,” Prenzler said.
Prenzler also said that he thinks the team will perform well next year, despite them losing two of their fastest runners.
“With Landon and Austin being gone next year, we’ll have big shoes to fill,” Prenzler said. “But, I think that once everyone has a full year to prepare and adjust more to college training, then it will be easier for us to come into regional races next year with confidence and trust that we’ll do what we need to.”
Moore said some setbacks the team sometimes has and what they do as a team to work around them and bring out the best.
“We’ve had a few injuries this season, like Austin had sprained his ankle and had to adjust his training for healing, and the team having to adjust to a different type of training and having me as the new assistant coach, I think that was the biggest challenge for everyone,” Moore said.
“We’re all pretty excited for next semester because we will have our first indoor track meet coming up in less than a month, and once we get back from winter break, that’s when our indoor season gets full swing. That’ll carry all the way to our outdoor season,” Skelly said. “We’ll go to several meets, including West Virginia, Notre Dame and Alabama; so, we’re all excited about that.”
Friday’s race closed the season for cross country, but some of the athletes will be competing on SIUE’s Track and Field teams in the spring.