Trojans Are North-Star Conference Champs

The Trojan cross-country team made history this weekend. For the first time in conference history, the Dakota State men and women cross-country teams took home the North Star Athletic Conference Championships. The men’s team won their second consecutive championship and the women’s team won their first ever championship. 

On Saturday, November 8th the Trojan cross-country teams headed to Forest City, Iowa to compete in the NSAA Cross-Country Championship. The women started off the day as a total of 50 runners battled the snow-covered field. Ashley Robinson led the Trojans with a second-place finish and a time of 20 minutes, 14.7 seconds in the 5k race. She was closely followed by teammate Jacia Christiansen who earned a fifth-place finish with a time of 20 minutes, 33.1 seconds. Jada Anderson also finished in the top ten for the Trojans with a time of 20 minutes, 45.2 seconds. These three runners were all able to receive All-Conference honors with their top ten finishes. The Trojans were also paced by Christianna Green who placed 12th, Andrea Bryant who placed 14th, and Mallory Aughenbaugh who placed 17th

The Trojan women ran well enough to tie with Dickinson State. Both teams tied with 41 points and were crowned co-champions and therefore will both represent the North Star at the NAIA National Cross-Country Championships. Dickinson State had dominated the conference for the last four years, but the Trojans were able to go out and compete to continue their season. “Heading into the meet we knew we had a chance,” said Head Coach Anthony Drealan. He noted that Ashley Robinson really stepped up for the Trojans and was able to run a great race. The team was able to pull all the success they’ve been having all year long and put it all together. 

The Trojan men also took home a conference championship. They defended their title and won for the second year in a row. Unlike the women’s race, there was no question as to who won the conference. Dakota State won the meet with a score of 29 points which easily beat the second-place team, Viterbo, who scored 53 points. 

Max Cruise and Braden Cunrow lead the teams to the finish line. Photo from DSU Cross Country and Track and Field on Facebook.

The men’s cross country team was led by standout runner Braden Curnow. He took home the conference individual title for the second year in a row with a time of 25 minutes, 18.8 seconds in the 8k race. His teammate Maxwell Cruise was able to follow close behind and take home second-place with a run of 25 minutes, 59.2 seconds. Alex Derr ran for a fifth-place finish with a time of 26 minutes, 39.2 seconds and Taylor Gipson placed tenth with a time of 27 minutes, 20.8 seconds. These four men all took home All-Conference honors for placing in the top ten. Tyler Kennedy just missed it with an eleventh-place finish and a time of 27 minutes, 21.9 seconds. Coach Drealan said “The men had a lot of confidence going into the race, but we also knew anything could happen.” This confidence led to success, and the Trojans left little doubt as to who the best team in the conference is. 

The conference title will enable the men’s team to head back to the NAIA Men’s Cross-Country National Championships for the second year in a row. Both the men and women’s teams will compete in Vancouver, Washington. The runners will head out on Wednesday (11/20) and compete on Friday (11/22).

Head Coach Drealan is looking forward to seeing his runners go out an compete at this level. On the women’s side, the goal as a team is to try and place in the top 30. Drealan also noted another goal, stating: “We’re also racing to try and beat Dickinson. Being able to beat Dickinson State outright would mean a lot to the team.” 

The men’s team is looking to make history at the meet. Dakota State has only had four All-American runners in school history, but this year they have the opportunity to have two All-American runners in the same season. Seniors Braden Curnow and Maxwell Cruse will push to try and place in the top 30 and therefore receive All-American honors. Curnow is even hoping to place in the top 10. As a team, the men are hoping to make history as well. Dakota State has never placed higher than 16th at the national meet, and they intend to change that this year. 

It should be an exciting couple of days for the Dakota State cross-country team. It’s an honor to even make it to the NAIA National Meet, but the teams aren’t satisfied with just being there. They are hoping to go out and compete and represent Dakota State to the best of their ability. Good luck and go Trojans!