For a pair of teams that have spent the better part of the past decade struggling to field competitive teams, the Mount Marcy College Lancers Cross Country squads are suddenly in the midst of a winning streak.
Last Saturday, for the second consecutive meet, the Lancers swept men’s and women’s team titles at a local meet, this time the Dakota Wesleyan Invitational in Mitchell. To top that, senior Kaylee Fly won her second consecutive individual meet title while junior Jordan Pater posted his first collegiate cross country victory.
Fly, a cross country national qualifier a year ago, ran 19:04 to win the 5000 meter race, easily beating runner-up Whitney Dooley (19:27) of Midland University. Junior Katie Smelker and freshmen Tess Byrd and Jordyn Hudelson ran in a tight pack all race long and placed sixth, seventh, and ninth at the finish to help the Lancers outdistance runner-up Midland by a score of 37-48.
Seniors Brittney Mikkelsen (14th) and Jade Steinberg (18th) also posted top-20 finishes for the Lancer ladies.
The Lancer men had an even more dominate day, outscoring second-place finishing Wayne State 27-63, a whopping 36-point spread for a small meet. Jordan Pater ran the fastest 8000 meter race of his life, posting a personal record time of 25:39 to beat Wayne State’s Garang Lual by 59 seconds.
Samuel Lopez (third) and Josh Monson (fifth) each ran outstanding races and held their ground near the front of the pack. Mychal Bierwagen’s finished seventh while Kevin Cosman rounded out the Lancer scoring and just missed a top-10 finish by placing 11th. This was the first time that those five juniors (coach Randy Fischer’s entire 2010 recruiting class) went 1-5 for the Lancers.
Freshman Gage Blaschke was just behind Cosman, finishing 11th while fellow freshman and Luverne-native Ryan Oye broke 30 minutes for the first time in his college career with a 17th place showing.
For their efforts, Fly and Pater were each named Great Plains Athletic Conference men’s and women’s Runner of the Week. It is the first time that any Lancer individual has taken that award in cross country during Fischer’s six-year tenure.
The Lancers now focus their attention on a much bigger meet, the upcoming Briar Cliff Invitational, held this Saturday, October 6 at the Adams Nature Preserve in McCook Lake. The BCU Invite will include most of the top GPAC teams as well as other area squads and should give Mount Marty a great indicator of where they sit heading into the last month of their season.
The Lancers host their annual home invite at the HSC grounds in Yankton on October 20 before returning to McCook Lake for the GPAC Championships, hosted by Briar Cliff, on November 3 as they try to earn their way both as a team and individually to the NAIA Cross Country Championships, held in Vancouver, Washington on November 17.
You can bet that at least a few of the Lancer harriers will be hoping to toe the line in Vancouver when the gun goes off out west.