Spearfish, S.D. - The Black Hills State cross country teams are both looking to repeat exceptional performances from a year ago. Last season, the Yellow Jacket women earned a second place finish and the men placed eighth overall at the NAIA Championships. Head Coach Scott Walkinshaw will lead Black Hills State into competition for the ninth year. Walkinshaw is extremely optimistic about the potential successes that lie ahead for the Yellow Jackets.

“There will a few changes in our lineup this season,” said Walkinshaw. “We lost a lot of really talented student-athletes this year. I am hopeful that our incoming student-athletes will pick up where those seniors left off and carry the Yellow Jacket torch with pride.”

The cross country program has achieved many great accomplishments during Walkinshaw’s tenure. Both men’s and women’s cross country teams won the Dakota Athletic Conference titles last season. The women have taken home the first place trophy six out of the last seven seasons and the men’s team has grabbed first place honors five out of the last six years. Last season, both teams placed first at the Region III Championships. In addition, the Yellow Jackets finished third in the combined team score for men and women. Black Hills State has been in the top five in five of the last six years.

The women will return five all conference athletes from a year ago, including sophomore Kerry Washburn and junior Wesleigh Jastorff. Both athletes were named all conference, all region and All-American. Other returning all conference performers include sophomore Alicia Verhulst and seniors Liz Woodruff and Kendra Karst.

On the men’s side, the Yellow Jackets will return three all conference performers from last season’s campaign. Senior James Hansen was named to both the all region and all conference awards a year ago. Sophomore Jesse Vrooman and junior Mike Nekuda will both join Hansen in their quest to repeat as Region III team champions. Junior transfer Trent Waage from Northern State and junior transfer Allen Wood from Jamestown College will both strengthen the Yellow Jacket men’s team.

“We obviously want to contend for the conference championship and get back to the national meet on both sides,” said Walkinshaw. “Even though we lost outstanding student-athletes like Crystal Hostetter, Jamie Hahn, Zach Kintzley and Luke Watkins, I feel with the experience of the returners and the addition of our newcomers we feel we will be competitive.”