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Falcon cross country team runs in right direction

December 9, 2010

The UW-River Falls cross country team wrapped up its season in mid November with a pair of middle of the pack finishes at the NCAA Midwest Division Three Regional Meet held in Rock Island, Ill.

Men’s cross country finished 14th out of 39 teams, while the women finished 19th.

Coming off of a season in which the Falcons graduated a pair of obvious frontrunners — runners who lead the team statistically — this year’s team was highlighted with youth, something that Head Coach Keven Syverson said looks positively towards the future.

“We had a few really nice freshman this year,” Syverson said. “We had three that actually made our varsity, which hasn’t happened in a few years.”

Syverson said that perhaps one of the biggest strengths of this year’s team is the team chemistry.

“The team gets along,” Syverson said. “They gel, they hangout together, they have really good team cohesiveness, so that’s a big positive.”

Assistant Men’s Coach and Head Women’s Coach Scott Sekelsky agreed with Syverson, and he said that the strength and depth of the team looks good for the upcoming years.

“We had one junior, three freshman, and the rest were sophomores in our top seven,” Sekelsky said. “So strength wise we look really good for the years coming up.”

Ironically, while youth is one of the biggest strengths of the Falcons, the coaches agree that it is also a weak spot.

“We are a young team,” Sekelsky said. “So in this conference, which is one of the best in the nation in division three, period, it’s hard to be competitive without veteran leadership.”

“One of the weaknesses this year was that we just didn’t have frontrunners,” Syverson said. “By the end of the year, we only had one guy on this years region team who was on it last year.”

Senior captain Kevin Rengo said that the season was interesting, adding that considering the youth of the team, he was pleased with the overall performance.

“We graduated a lot of really good talent,” Rengo said. “Therefore, we had a lot of freshman runners on the team and we also had some guys who were on the team last year that didn’t come out this year so that they could rest for track.”

Rengo said that the team was actually more talent-heavy than he can remember in years past.

“We didn’t have that top frontrunner as we have had in years past, but we actually had a lot of depth,” Rengo said. “Probably more depth than we have had since I have been here.”

Junior Charles Collins said that the team performed well, all things considered. He said he was particularly happy with the regional performance.

“At the regions meet, everyone took it to a whole new level,” Collins said. “Seeing that young potential really come out at that meet was cool, and it looks good for us next season.”

In his fourth season as the head coach of the men’s cross country team and his ninth season as the track coach, Syverson said that despite graduating a handful of senior and fifth-year talent this year, he could not be more pleased with the outlook of next year.

“Next year we should really be able to build on what we have, so that’s going to be nice.”