Men running on grass

DSU Cross Country team warming up. (Left to right) Martin Bailey, Tucker Murtha, Taylor Myers

Cross Country Dordt Invitational

Saturday, October 8th in Sioux City, Iowa was one of the first chilly mornings of the year for the Trojan’s cross-country team. As they reluctantly left the bus and laid out the tarp on the frosty grass of Dordt’s soccer field, all Martin Bailey could think about was whether he would end up wearing gloves during the race. After setting up the tent, some of the team would do their ritualistic walk of the course while others lined up to use the biffies (porta potties). After eating a very small breakfast and watching the guys’ tomfoolery, the ladies began their mile-and-a-half warmup thirty minutes before their 10:00 am gun.

The gun sounded and the women blasted off from the start line, disappearing from spectators behind a corn field. After a sharp right turn about a quarter mile in, everyone funneled into the meandering trail of the “Dordt Prairie”, south of the Defender’s campus.

After two laps of dirt, grass, concrete, tarps, sharp turns, and a finishing stretch, freshman Lindsey Roth would be the first Trojan to cross the line, placing 27th with a time of 19:32. This is Roth’s best time as a Trojan thus far. Madelyn Sylva followed with a 19:52, breaking the 20-minute barrier for her first time over 5 kilometers. When asked whether she felt like she was running a personal record time, Sylva said, “I felt like I was going slow until Coach Drealan yelled at me that I was going six-minute pace.”

Senior Jada Anderson recorded her season best with a time of 20:34:43 followed by Brooke Beaucaire, who ran 21:11.98. Sophomore Saddie Palmquist recorded a 22:46, which is her best time so far this year. Courtney Meyers improved her season best with a 23:47, followed by Kira Goldade, who ran 24:13.

The ladies placed 12th as a team with a top 5 spread of 3:14. They had a team average of 20:47 and a team time of 1:43:56

By the time the men’s race started, it had warmed up to 45 degrees; the perfect temperature for a race in most cross-country runners’ eyes. The men had gotten the luck of the draw, starting in the furthest outside box. All they had to do was run straight out of the gate while other teams had to merge toward them to get on the line. The race was a hard grind, but also a fast one. DSU’s top 7 all either ran faster than or perfectly hit Coach Drealan’s prescribed mile splits.

Second-year runner, Cody Farland, went out hard and maintained speed for the rest of the race to lead his team, shattering his personal record by over a minute. Recording the fastest time over 8 kilometers by a Trojan since 2019 (Braeden Curnow), Farland came through the finish line at 25:33.82. He placed 18th and scored 16 points for the team.

“I kind of followed Coach Drealan’s first-mile split. I went through with a 4:58 or so which was a little fast. After that, I tried not to fall off that front group too badly. I knew that if I were to go out that aggressively, people were going to be catching up to me. Whenever people did, I tried to go with them and maintain contact for as long as I could. I ended up dropping 10-15 places throughout that race, but I was able to hang on for a good amount of time. I wasn’t too serious; just go out hard and after that first mile, just compete with those around me.”

This meet was an opportunity to return to form for junior, Taylor Myers, who reassumed his position as a top 2 runner for the Trojans. Myers finished at Dordt with a time of 26:15.7: only half a second shy of his career-best.

Colter Elkin ground out a new personal best of over 45 seconds (26:24:6) after competing with and ultimately passing third-year teammate Martin Bailey. Bailey followed with a time of 26:38.9. A kicking Evan Slominski came in right behind Bailey with a 26:42.20; a twenty-second personal record.

Senior Tyler Kennedy was DSU’s sixth runner with a time of 26:57.18. It was Kennedy’s first time breaking 27 minutes, an accomplishment that had been on his mind for a long time. Seventh runner Dalton Brouwer had a career day, setting a new personal record of 27:02.4. After battling with ankle problems over the past two years, Brouwer is having his healthiest year of training and racing so far.

Overall, this was the fastest men’s team performance in years for the Trojans. The men finished 7th out of 14 places with a top 5 runner spread of 1:09, an average of 26:19.03, and a team time of 2:11:35.

We asked 10th-year head coach Anthony Drealan for his thoughts on the team’s performance as well as some of his thoughts on having an established number one runner:

Was it exciting seeing Cody going sub-26?

It absolutely was. It was something that I knew was possible, but you still have to be able to go out and do that. It was great to see that breakthrough by him and the rest of our pack. Both of those were awesome to see.

Is it good that the team has a definitive first runner? Do you prefer it that way?

I think it’s one of those things that doesn’t have to happen for a team to be successful. Cody has obviously been in that spot this year, but we’ve got a tight pack from runners two to even ten. So you can even have a successful team in that way as well. The only thing I will say in favor of having a definitive number one is that at the national championships, if you have someone place 40th, that’s a huge point swing. If you’ve got a tight pack but your top guy is 120th, that could have a big impact on the point swing. The year Braeden was 6th in the country, that’s essentially like scoring four guys because scoring only 6 points would be such a minimal amount in a meet like that.

Is there anything else that you would like to say about the meet?

It was nice to get on a course that was more conducive for fast times. Our September is a heavy training month and then we were onto some tougher courses, so it was awesome to see the progress in times of what people could do. Hopefully that builds people’s confidence up as we head into the rest of the season. Both the men’s and women’s teams had a huge progress in our team time and team average. Comparing how we ran at the same invite in 2019, we ran a really similar team time. The competition changes all the time, but we had a good year then. So, having that type of performance on the same course is great metric as we continue.

The Trojans look to improve personal times again tomorrow morning in their last regular season competition at Mount Marty. DSU will race for a spot at nationals at the NSAA Conference Championships in Dickinson, N.D. on the 4th of November. Live race results are available through DSU’s athletic website.