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Cross country reaching potential

October 5, 2012

Junior runner Briana Berthiaume (right) and sophomore Jackie Liebl (left).
Junior runner Briana Berthiaume (right) and sophomore Jackie Liebl (left) are two of the top runners on the UWRF women’s cross country team as they finish their season. (Kylie Dekkers for the Student Voice)

Both the UW-River Falls men’s and women’s cross country teams competed Sept. 29 at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota.

The men’s team was led by sophomore Jessop Keene, running a 26:48 in the 8,000 km race. Keene was quickly followed to the finish line by senior Charles Collins (27:41), sophomore Ochaung Akway (27:49) and freshman Kody Gudden (28:03). All four runners finished in the top 100 of the race.

“[Keene] improved nicely in his placing from last year. His time was a little bit faster than last year, but his placing was about 12 places better,” said men’s coach Keven Syverson. “Kody, one of our freshmen, had an outstanding day. Akway had a rough day at Eau Claire, but he was our third runner at Griak so it was nice to see him get back in it,” said Syverson.

The men’s team wound up finishing 13th out of 27 teams participating at the Roy Griak Invite. A result which Syverson says does not quite indicate the potential this team has.

“We’re getting a little more depth which doesn’t reflect positively in the scores right now. But it’s a good sign,” said Syverson.

The women’s team placed 11th out of 29 teams at the Roy Griak Invite, securing one of their best results ever at the invitational.

“It’s the best result since I’ve been head coach,” said women’s head coach Scott Sekelsky. “We were about six points out of 10th so it was a really good finish for us.” Senior Katie Rydeen led the women’s team finishing in 14th place with a time of 22:57 on the 6,000 km course, her best finish ever at the Roy Griak Invite. Juniors Briana Berthiaume and Brittany Nordland both ran under 25 minutes as well, completing the top three finishers for the women’s team. The top six finishers for the UWRF women finished in the top 100.

“Across the board we ran pretty well. I think the good thing is that’s the highest place we’ve had and I think we can run better,” said Sekelsky. “It was a great finish and I don’t think we’re firing on all cylinders yet.”

Both the men’s and women’s team will be back in action on Saturday, Oct. 13. The men’s team will be running at the Jim Drews Invitational, hosted by UW-La Crosse. However, the women’s team will be doing things a bit differently.

“I want the team to run [at UW-Oshkosh] before hand. I’m only brining the top nine and the rest are going to UW-La Crosse,” said Sekelsky. “Thirty-five of our 42 regional teams will be there so basically it’ll tell us almost exactly where we’re at. Our goal is to be top 10 in the region.”

Only three meets into the season, neither the men’s nor the women’s team has yet to run up to their potential. Which is good thing going forward as the Falcons look to make some noise in the WIAC.