Cross Country comes to a close

Kantonen, Danielson lead the Fighting Hawks in Midwest Regional

Madison Overby, Sports Editor

As snow gave way to mud in Peoria, Illinois after almost 500 runners ran lap after lap on the golf course, the 2018 UND cross country season came to an end. The end of this season also marked head coach Richard Clay’s final cross country season, ending a career of 34 years. Clay is the most tenured coach in UND history.

Clay left things on a good note, with the women’s team having the most successful team performances in the past four years. The women placed 26th as a team in Peoria at the Midwest Regional. The highest UND women have placed in the Division 1 Midwest Regional meet has been 24th, which was in 2014.

This year, Lydia Kantonen led the women’s side of things with a time of 21 minutes and 57 seconds, placing her in 85th.

The highest women’s individual finish ever at the division one regional meet was Erin Wysocki, who placed 44th in 2014 with a time of 21 minutes and five seconds.

“I’m hoping that next year we can have a good pack around the times that Erin was running,” team captain Hannah Oscarson said. “I think that is very doable.”

To have three or four runners around 21 minutes in the 6K would most likely boost the team into the top ten teams of the regional meet, which would be a significant jump.

The men’s team placed 31st at the Midwest Regional with highest finisher Connor Danielson placing 122nd. Danielson has been the top runner for UND at every meet this year during his senior season.

“We’ve got a young team,” men’s team captain Jacob Henne said. “As the team gets older, not only does the running get better but the commitment increases. You start doing the little things, things you might not have done in high school that are essential for success in college running.”

As the teams move forward, both are looking for improvement in any way they can get it.

“We need to start putting in the work to get stronger before it leads to injuries,” Oscarson said. “If we can get people to really pay attention to their weak areas and build on that, that is one thing that will keep people off of the sidelines and improve their times.”

Henne spoke along the same lines with increasing strength and also wants to up the mileage.

“I think the biggest thing we’re lacking is just mileage,” Henne said. “We need to build up a bigger base by gradually increasing the miles that we’re running in the off-season. It’s not like we need to run faster all the time, we just have to run more.”

As the team is looking to build in the next couple years, sights are set on a high finish in the Summit League Championships. This year, both the men and women’s teams placed fourth in the conference behind the other Dakota schools; South Dakota, North Dakota State and South Dakota State. As the teams get closer together in times, there could be a very close fight for the championship and UND is in that mix.

The hiring process for the new cross country coach will begin in early 2019.