Spearfish, S.D. – The Black Hills State University men’s and women’s cross country teams anxiously await the beginning of the 2010 season. The women’s team will begin their season on Sat., Sept. 4 in Billings, Mont. with a triangular meet against Rocky Mountain College and Montana State University-Billings. The men’s team will see its first action on Thurs., Sept. 9 when the Yellow Jackets will host their only home meet of the season. The Yellow Jacket Invitational will be run on the golf course at the Spearfish Canyon Country Club.
Scott Walkinshaw begins his thirteenth year at the helm of the cross country program and feels that this year’s schedule will do a great job in preparing the harriers for the Dakota Athletic Conference (DAC) and NAIA championship meets in November.
The Yellow Jackets are returning several athletes who are expected to make big contributions to this year’s teams. The women’s team returns four of its top seven runners from last year’s team which won the DAC title and placed tenth at the NAIA National Championship Meet. Erin Curran, a sophomore from Wahoo, Neb., is the top returner on the women’s team after winning the individual DAC title and placing 14th at the NAIA national meet. All-conference performers Robyn Rosechandler, Leigh Anne Whiteside and Abi Bever will lend valuable experience.
With six incoming freshman and only one senior, the women’s team will be relative young but not short on talent. Lela Carpenter, from Sheridan, Wyo., leads the group. Carpenter placed second in the Wyoming 4A State Championships last fall and second in the 3,200-meter run at last year’s Simplot Games. Carpenter will be joined by Anna Yanchek and Erica Gadja, both from Cheyenne, Wyo., Becca Ellis, Teresa Klarenbeek and Brooke Wells.
The men’s team returns seniors Neil Long, a native of Fort Collins, Colo., and KC Fiedler, hailing from George, Iowa. Fiedler redshirted last season after placing second in the 2008 DAC Championship meet. Junior Jed Morgan and red-shirt sophomore Laine Parish are also returning to the 2010 squad. Red-shirt sophomore Craig Leavitt is expected to make a strong push to be in the top five runners for the Yellow Jackets this season. Long and Parish qualified for the NAIA National Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the 5,000-meter run last spring while Morgan, Fiedler and Leavitt all qualified in the steeplechase. Morgan was an All-American.
The men’s team also has a solid incoming freshman class. Marc Whirlwind Soldier of Mission, S.D., was the South Dakota Class A state champion in 2009. Mitch Kraft of Wessington Springs, S.D., is a three-time South Dakota State Class B runner-up. Mark Wilcox, from Yankton, S.D., placed thirteenth at last year’s South Dakota State Cross Country Championships.
The youth of both the men’s and women’s team are used to winning. Kraft, Wilcox and Yanchek all ran on 2009 State Championship teams while Carpenter’s team was runner-up.
The Yellow Jacket women have won nine out of the last ten Dakota Athletic Conference Championships while the men have won eight out of the last ten and finished runner-up twice. Both teams have a combined sixteen NAIA top-ten national meet team finishes, including four national runner-up finishes.
For more information on Black Hills State Athletics, visit www.BHSUAthletics.com.