The University of Wisconsin-Parkside hosted the NMU Wildcat cross country runners Saturday, Sept. 14 in Kenosha, Wis. and they opened their season competing against 16 other schools from the region. Despite missing several of their runners due to illness and other sport-related obligations, the ’Cats finished sixth overall with the top five runners compiling a total time of 1:36.29.
Wildcat head coach Jennifer Ryan said she was excited to see how well the runners did in the meet. Ryan also said she believes there is room for improvement.
“The showing for the group we had available was very promising,” Ryan said. “It’s great to see them run like this early in the season.”
Juniors Olivia Howard and Chelsea Farquhar were the top finishers for the ’Cats, both completing the 5,000-meter course with a 19:14 mark and earning the 26th and 27th overall positions respectively. Junior Larissa Halonen crossed the finish line with the 31st best time, 19:18.
Redshirt freshman Xavier Donajkowski and junior Christina Toogood made their debuts with the Wildcats on Saturday, finishing with the fourth and fifth best times on the team respectively. Donajkowski finished 32nd overall with a time of 19:19, while Toogood crossed the line in 36th place with a time of 19:23.
Junior Emily Allen, senior Evelyne Ruiz and sophomore Jaylee Brown all crossed the finish line with top 100 finishes, earning the 70th, 76th, and 99th overall positions respectively with respective times of 20:16, 20:23 and 20:35.
Freshman Shannon Flynn, sophomores Catherine Swiderski and Abby Roche and redshirt freshman Johanna Carlson also ran at the event, finishing 114th, 122nd, 135th and 147th respectively.
The Cats finished behind Edinboro University, along with the home town University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Northwestern of the Big Ten Conference, who tied with Indianapolis for third, and Winona State. The Wildcats finished 117 points behind first place Edinboro, but were secure in their finish, beating out seventh place St. Norbert University, who posted 229 points to Northern Michigan’s 152.
Jess Watychowicz of UW-Parkside was the top overall finisher at the meet, finishing her home course with a time of 17:39. Since Watychowicz had already used the entirety of her cross country eligibility, her time was not counted towards the UW-Parkside team’s overall score.
Sarah Krolick and Kasey Jones of the victorious Edinboro Fighting Scots finished in the second and third slots with respective times of 17:52 and 18:13. Jessica Young of the Winona State Warriors completed the course with a time of 18:16, good for fourth overall. Katie Kummerer of the Carthage Lady Reds rounded out the top five finishes with a time of 18:28.
Ryan said the team needs to work on running a strong race the entire stretch of the course.
“We seemed to finish the race really strong but need to work on starting the same way,” Ryan said. “We ran well but we still have some things we can improve and a lot of work ahead.”
Halonen said the team performed well to open the season, despite missing some members.
“We were missing a few runners from illness and injury, and everyone just stepped up to the plate,” Halonen said. “I’m very proud of how we finished as a team and of the great effort everyone gave.”
Halonen said she was also proud of her improvement from her preseason meet at Michigan Tech to Kenosha.
“I’m much happier with my finish than I was when we ran at Tech,” Halonen said. “I felt much stronger, and will continue to practice and improve as the season goes on.”
This is the first of the three meets the Wildcats will travel to Kenosha for this season, including the NCAA Midwest Regional on Saturday, Nov. 9. This Saturday, Sept. 21, the ’Cats will travel to Houghton to face rival Michigan Tech and other conference opponents in the Pre-GLIAC meet. The first runners will cross the starting line at 10 a.m.