SDM harriers look to surprise teams at Region III meet
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- The South Dakota School of Mines men’s and women’s cross country teams will travel to Sioux Falls Saturday to compete at the Region III meet in hopes of qualifying for the NAIA National Championships and extending their season.
The Region III race is made up of teams from the Dakota Athletic Conference and the Great Plains Conference having a total of 18 schools eligible. For the first time since the region was formed, the Hardrockers will compete in both the men’s and women’s races.
On the men’s side, the Hardrockers have a good group of athletes that like to run together.
SDM’s top three runners, senior Rob Hahn (Sioux Falls, S.D.) an all DAC selection, junior Colton Reid (Colstrip, Mont.) and senior Kyle Kattke (Black Hawk, S.D.) have all been the lead dog this season and all have finished surprisingly close to one another.
“They have been packing well together toward the front,” said Hardrocker head coach Jerry Schafer. “I think all three of them have an outside shot of qualifying for Nationals as individuals.”
SDM freshmen Kendra Crisman (right) and Brittany Hovdenes push themselves toward the finish line during the Hardrockers home meet back in September. Photo by Brad Blume
To do that, a runner must place in the Top 7 that isn’t on a qualifying team.
“If all three run like I think they can run, then it will set our team in good position to finish well as a team.”
And with Hardrocker teammates Lucas Fried (freshman from Kodiak, Al.) and Marcus Moor (sophomore from Kadoka, S.D.) improving each week as the fourth and fifth runners, the Hardrockers�� chances get that much better.
“Lucas Fried and Marcus Moor will give us a good solid fourth and fifth performance. That should put our team, hopefully, in the Top 5 at Regions.”
Tack on new addition Scott Anderson (junior from Huron, S.D.) along with freshman Corbin Haller (Sidney, Neb.) and sophomore Erik Bjornebo (Sioux Falls, S.D.) and the SDM team looks very solid. “(Anderson) should give us a solid sixth and his presence has gotten our No. 6 and 7 runners to step it up a little bit,” Schafer said. “I am pretty excited to add (Anderson) into the mix. It makes the whole team that much better.”
The latest Region III ranking had the Hardrockers listed as eighth, but Schafer feels that they are a much better unit than that.
“We are pretty optimistic with the men’s team,” Schafer said. “I think if we run like we are capable, we are as good as Hastings, Doane, Morningside, Dakota State and Sioux Falls. Teams that we have been close to but haven’t beaten this year. We are as good as those teams and I think we could finish as high as fourth. If one of those Top 3 teams falters --- who knows?”
The region also holds some nationally ranked squads. Black Hills State was third in the last NAIA ranking, Dickinson State was 13th, Concordia University was 16th and Hastings College was honorable mention, receiving a couple votes.
On the women’s side, the Lady Hardrockers are pretty green, with only one harrier ever having run in a college regional race.
Junior Jessica Chretien (Rapid City, S.D.) and freshmen Kendra Crisman (Rapid City, S.D.), Brittany Hovdenes (Rapid City, S.D.), Molly Vukelich (Rapid City, S.D.) and Kim Kerce (Colorado Springs, Colo.) are all new to this level of racing. Sophomore Samantha Diede (Huron, S.D.) ran in last year’s region race, finishing in the top half of the field.
The SDM women’s team hasn’t been ranked in the Top 10 all season at the region level, but Schafer said he doesn’t see why his girls can���t crack into the Top 10 with a solid effort.
“Our top two runners (Crisman and Hovdenes) are running very well right now,” Schafer said. “The last two weeks they have really looked sharp and we are anxious to see how far they have come since the conference meet (two weeks ago).”
Both girls finished in the Top 15 at the DAC meet with Crisman and Hovdenes both earning All DAC honors as well.
Schafer said the rest of the squad is improving as well, either getting over minor injuries, illness or just improving their overall times.
The location of the Region III meet is the same it’s been for the past two years, Prairie Green Golf Course, but the course has been modified a little this season. Runners will complete two big loops on a somewhat flat, grassy course.
“It should lend itself, at the halfway point, for us to know where we are at (in the race) and what we have to accomplish in the second half as to where we need to finish. I am excited about the change,” Schafer said. “I think it will be a good situation.”
And despite it being a fast flat track, Schafer said it would be nice to run on a course with some hills in it for a change but … “We will take what we are given and run with it --- pun intended,” the coach added.
The women’s race is slated to start at 11 a.m. (CST) and the men to follow at 11:45 a.m. (CST)
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