Cross Country ’Cats dominate Tech

Jon Young

High expectations were met with even higher results as the NMU women’s cross country team blew past the competition to start their season last Friday, Aug. 31 at Michigan Tech.

The ’Cats snagged the first 12 collegiate spots led by junior Mandy Dye who finished the 5K race in a time of 19:23.3. Head coach Jenny Ryan said she wasn’t surprised by Dye’s time.

“Definitely a great performance,” Ryan said. “I knew it was coming because she has been training very well. Four years of good, smart training and it’s all coming together for her and its great.”

Sophomore Olivia Howard also ran a sub -0 minute 5k as she cruised to a second place finish for NMU with a time of 19:57.6. The next four Wildcats to cross the line were all within 15 seconds of Howard.

Ryan said running in a pack is beneficial to the team and she told her athletes to work on that going into the race.

“It really helps because they can really push each other and work together,” Ryan said. “I told them ahead of time; don’t run two steps in front of your teammate and go the same pace, run together and try to help push each other.”

The plan worked as NMU finished the race with a perfect score of 15 points. Michigan Tech was second with 58 points and Finlandia finished with 81 points. Dye said beating the Huskies adds something to the win.

“Michigan Tech is never an easy race; in fact I would say that it is the most difficult course we run each season,” Dye said. “Each school has a rival, Tech happens to be ours so beating them always makes for a good day.”

Freshman Megan Edic crossed the line third in 19:58.6, followed by sophomore Katie Granquist in 20:04.3 and senior Rita Wiotas placed fifth with a time of 20:09.2.

“Our team has strength in numbers and we ran really, really well, especially for how early we are in the season,” Dye said. “To say that I am looking forward to the rest of our season is an understatement; I cannot wait to see what we will accomplish.”

Ryan said Tech’s course is the hardest the team will run all season and it provides a good chance to see where the athlete’s fitness level is. The course follows ski paths and the final two kilometers are mostly an uphill climb.

“I thought it was definitely a great start to the season, I was really impressed with the entire team,” Ryan said. “Everyone ran smart and they ran some great races and I’m definitely happy to see how well they did for the first meet and to see where we stand and it looks like everybody trained well over the summer.”

The Wildcats are on the road again this weekend as they travel to compete in the Midwest Collegiate Opener. The race gets underway at noon, Saturday, Sept. 8 in Kenosha, Wis.

Ryan said the Midwest Collegiate Opener gives the team a chance to face some bigger schools and different competition.

“It will be a faster course so we will really get to see some fast 5k times and also some more competition so we will kind of get an idea of where we stand against them,” Ryan said. “There’s always a few Division I teams. It’ll be a chance to compete against more teams and to see what we can do.”