The North Dakota State women's cross country team will travel to Rochester, Mich., this weekend in search of its second consecutive league title at the 2012 Summit League Cross Country Championships. The 6k race will take place at 9 a.m. (CT) at Katke-Cousins Golf Course.
North Dakota State is the reigning Summit League champion after edging Southern Utah last year in Tulsa, Okla., to claim the school's first-ever Summit title in cross country. NDSU totaled 64 points last season to top Southern Utah's 73, as the top five Bison runners finished between sixth and 21st place overall.
NDSU head coach Ryun Godfrey thinks his team will be motivated and ready to perform.
"The fact that it's the conference championships - adrenaline will kick in and the kids will be fine," said Godfrey. "There are a few teams out there that are pretty good, but I still think we're one of the best teams in the league. We just have to put it together on that day."
The Bison return two All-Summit League honorees in juniors Heidi Peterson and Maddie McClellan. Godfrey earned Coach of the Year honors and freshman Abbi Aspengren claimed the league's top newcomer award in 2011.
"I think our experience has been important all year," noted Godfrey. "With Maddie and Heidi being juniors and Faith (Kruchowski) being a senior, that's a lot of experience. I think it's big for us going into a conference meet."
Redshirt freshman Brecca Wahlund was NDSU's top finisher at the first three meets of the season and the No. 2 finisher on Oct. 13 at the UND Ron Pynn Invitational. She'll be running in her first conference meet on Saturday.
"The least-experienced athlete - the one who hasn't seen a conference championship yet - is the one who has been running the fastest all year," Godfrey noted of Wahlund's relative inexperience. "If she just packs it in with those girls, she's going to do well."
NDSU was picked first in the league's preseason poll in August, with South Dakota State coming in at No. 2 and Kansas City at No. 3. The Bison are the only Summit League team in the USTFCCCA regional rankings at No. 9 in the Midwest region.
"I've been proud of the way they've prepared every week," said Godfrey. "They come to practice on all of our hard sessions ready to train well. I think they've done everything they need to be ready to go on Saturday."
"Our main focus is just to go in there and do what we've been doing all year, and that's competing well from start to finish."
2011 Summit League Championships Individual Results
Place Name Time
6. Heidi Peterson 22:20.48
7. Jordan Krahn 22:21.98
12. Maddie McClellan 22:36.52
18. Faith Kruchowski 22:52.46
21. Abbi Aspengren 22:55.16
22. Kelly Pechous 23:00.69
74. Megan Feyereisen 26:04.67
76. Kathryn Houle 26:09.37
2011 Summit League Championships Team Results
Place Team Score
1. North Dakota State 64
2. Southern Utah 73
3. Kansas City 99
4. South Dakota State 116
5. South Dakota 132
6. Oral Roberts 133
7. Oakland 148
8. IUPUI 178
9. Fort Wayne 197
10. Western Illinois 271
NDSU Past Summit League Team Finishes