Monday, October 12, 2009
It was a cold day for the teams competing in Saturday’s Yellow Jacket Invitational held at Riverfront Park in Billings, MT. Despite the icy conditions and a temperature near 20 degrees, both the Black Hills State University men and women's teams turned up the heat to capture team titles. The annual meet hosted by Montana State University-Billings had eight teams competing.  
Senior Wendy O'Lexey, Rock Springs, WY won the individual title and lead the BHSU Yellow Jackets to the team title. Her time of 18:02 gave her a six second win over Amber Watson from Rocky Mountain College and was one minute and seven seconds faster than her 2008 win in Billings. Following Wendy for the Running Yellow Jackets were freshman Erin Curran, Wahoo, NE, and sophomore Leigh Ann Whiteside, Loveland, CO.  Both ran personal bests, Erin finishing in third place at 18:33 and Leigh Ann finishing fifth in 19:08 for the 5000 kilometer distance. Freshman Abi Bever, Cheyenne, WY (East) and junior Robyn Rosechandler, Cody, WY finished 11th and 17th, respectively. Abi finished in 19:20 and Robyn in 19:46. The women took first place as a team with 34 points over second place NCAA Division II MSU-Billings with 47 points. 

The Yellow Jacket men also put forth a strong effort, placing four in the top ten and winning the men's team title with 27 points over Dickinson State University with 96 points. Sweeping the top three spots were senior Mark Mazza, Cheyenne, Wy (Central), Birch Haraden, Billings, MT (Skyview), and sophomore Jed Morgan, Loveland, CO. Mazza finished the 8k course in 25:27, closely followed by Haraden in 25:29 and Morgan in 25:33.  Red-shirt sophomore Neil Long, Fort Collins, CO (Rocky Mountain) finished tenth in 26:20 and redshirt freshman Laine Parish, Cheyenne, WY (Central) finished 11th in 26:25. The Running Yellow Jacket men place eight runners in the top eighteen in the field of eighty four runners. 

"We ran tough, and our team really can do well when the weather isn't so great," commented sophomore Leigh Anne Whiteside.  "Everyone ran great despite the conditions." The Running Yellow Jackets continue the season with the Santa Clara Bronco Cross Country Invitational next weekend in Santa Clara, CA.