The cross country Wildcats finished a solid second place at the U.P. Challenge held at Michigan Tech University last Saturday coming in close behind the host school by 22 points and leaving the third place team Wartburg University 10 points behind.
Considering the competition and the windy and cold weather, head coach Jennifer Ryan said she was very excited about the team’s results.
“There was high winds and cold air but they still finished well, thankfully we are used to all weather and training in adverse conditions.” Ryan said
Ryan said the final score of the meet (lowest score wins) was actually deceiving, even though there is over a 20 point difference, it was still a very close meet. Michigan Tech took first with 25 points and the Wildcats ended with 47 points.
“It was a close meet. The top two girls were ahead of our top girl, the top 7 from each school were so close, within 6 seconds of each other; that made it a very close ending,” Ryan said.
Kristen Schulz led the Wildcats with a fourth-place finish (19:57.5). Mandy Dye was ninth (20:22.3), Olivia Juntila (20:24.2) and Nora Kiilunen (20:27.8) followed closely with a 10th and 11th place finish.
Christina Turman was 13th (20:37.5), Rita Woitas was hot on her teammate’s heels in 14th (20:39.6), and Jordyn Ross was 16th (20:59.7).
The remaining Wildcats finished as follows: Jessie Krob (21:00.6), Alicia Romano (21:11.5), Karmen Whitham (21:24.0), Brittany Loomis (22:07.1), Libby Ellis (22:19.5), Kristen Hoklas (22:22.0), Katie Holoway (22:26.3), Rosie Frankowski (22:56.8) and Kelsey Noah (23:01.2).
Assistant coach Sten Fjeldheim said the team has more potential than they showed at the first event.
“We started the season strong, but not our strongest,” he said. “They started out better than last year and there’s a major improvement from this year to last year on the same course.”
Still, Fjeldheim acknowledged the Michigan Tech team is a tough team to beat this season.
“Tech has a strong women’s team, stronger than they’ve had in a long time, its good to have good competition right down the road,” Fjeldheim said.
Fjeldheim said Junior runner Nora Kiilunen ran well and kept good pacing for the duration of the race.
“Nora ran a really even pace the whole race and looked good the whole race, showing shes a seasoned runner,” he said
Ryan said the weather wasn’t optimal but the team worked through it.
“(There were) high winds and cold air but they still finished well. (The team is) used to all weather and training in adverse conditions,” Ryan said.
The next event will be the Lake Superior State Invitational in Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday, Sept. 11.