CSS Cross Country Competes in NCAA Central Region Championships

Andrew Naslund

After two weeks off from competition, The College of St. Scholastica men’s and women’s cross country teams hopped back on the bus once again last Saturday, this time with their sights set on the NCAA Region Championships at Carleton College. While expectations were high going into the meet, both teams failed to crack the top ten, with the men finishing in fifteenth place and the women finishing in thirteenth place overall.

The Saints men’s team kicked off the festivities for the day, and once again, they were led by the impressive freshman standout Isaac Boedigheimer. Boedigheimer, in just one year of collegiate experience, has grown accustomed to running with the front of the pack, and he was the fastest Saint yet again this week, finishing just outside the top twenty with his season-best time of 25:41. With that time, Boedigheimer now owns the third fastest score in CSS history.

Just moments after Boedigheimer finished, Easton Foss crossed the finish line for the Saints with his personal-best time of 25:54, placing him one spot outside of the top 30 for the event. Foss and Boedigheimer had been a dynamic duo all season long for the Saints, and their work was rewarded last Saturday as their scores earned them all-region accolades.

The next three runners for the Saints men’s team fell outside of the top 100 runners, but every Saint managed to set his season-best time on Saturday. Cameron Pearson, a sophomore from Park Falls, Wisconsin, finished third for the Saints with a time of 27:12. At the 27:39 mark, Ryan Steger became the fourth Saint to complete the race. Finally, the last scoring spot for the men’s team would be duked out between McEwan Rodefeld and Izaak Juenemann, with Juenemann finishing a mere two seconds earlier at 27:55. Sawyer Morgan, a sophomore from Ogilvie, Minnesota, also competed for the Saints, finishing with a time of 28:57.

The conditions on Saturday played a large factor into some of the Saints’ performances. On a moderate November afternoon, the weather and the course were optimal for the runners, and many of the Saints managed to set personal best times during the race.

“The conditions were better than any previous race,” Morgan explained. “There were gradual and slight hills through the last few miles of the course. The weather was just right to allow for solid personal records.”

While the men would have liked to finished higher overall in NCAA regionals as a team, they managed to outperform all of their fellow UMAC competitors. After placing third in the conference championships in late October, the Saints were the highest scoring UMAC team by far last Saturday, beating the conference champs of University of Wisconsin-Superior by 75 points and Martin Luther College by 102 points.

The CSS women’s team was feeling confident heading into last weekend, fresh off becoming the UMAC champions in October. For CSS senior Casey Hovland, that same confidence was evident, as she finished in third place with a time of 21:57. With another top ten performance at the NCAA Region Championships this year, Hovland made history by becoming the first CSS runner to earn NCAA All-Region accolades three times, and also the first CSS runner to qualify for three NCAA Championships.

After Hovland, Nicole Gilman and Elizabeth Poskie scored next for the Saints. Gilman, a sophomore from Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin, finished in the top 75 with a time of 24:01. Poskie snuck into the top 100 as well, and ended her year with a personal-best time of 24:20. Lauren Dynek and Katelynn Gullickson rounded out the scoring for the Saints, with Dynek beating Gullickson by just one fifth of a second with her score of 24:44.0.

Other runners for the Saints included Heidi Carlson, who finished her last race with the Saints with a time of 25:35. Aria Plewa finished her first season with the Saints by having her season-best time of 25:08 on Saturday. At the NCAA Regional Championships of all places, this accomplishment is particularly impressive and important for the freshman considering that she is only months removed from hip surgery this summer.

“Coming off hip surgery this summer, laying down a significant PR this season was satisfying,” Plewa said. “I would not have made it this far without God, my physical therapist, my coaches, and the team.”

Just like the men’s team, the CSS women led the way for the UMAC conference. While Hovland qualified for the NCAA championships that will take place next week in Illinois, Plewa and others are already looking forward to the opportunity to return and build off their UMAC championship next season.