Blue Hawks progressing in time for Frontier meetThough Dickinson State athletic teams don’t officially become members of the Frontier Conference until Saturday night, the Blue Hawk cross country team will compete for the school’s first league title today.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Though Dickinson State athletic teams don’t officially become members of the Frontier Conference until Saturday night, the Blue Hawk cross country team will compete for the school’s first league title today.
DSU head coach Mike Nekuda is hoping for the best, he knows it could be an uphill battle against some stiff competition today at the conference meet in Billings, Mont.
“It’s going to be tough on each side, men’s and women’s,” said Nekuda, who is in his first year as DSU’s head coach. “Honestly, we want to go out and beat a few teams. That’s our goal. There’s not a certain place we need to take. We want to run well and maybe beat a few teams.”
Three Frontier teams are in the NAIA national rankings. Lewis-Clark State’s men are ranked No. 7. The Carroll College women are No. 10 with Lewis-Clark right behind them at No. 14.
The Blue Hawks allowed to compete in the Frontier by the NAIA this season because DSU was invited to join the league last winter and it helped the university significantly cut down on travel costs it would have endured competing in the NAIA’s independent meet in San Marcos, Calif.
The Blue Hawks are in the same situation though.
To qualify a runner for the NAIA national championships, DSU must either win the team race or have individuals finish among the top five runners not on the winning team.
“Our goal is to try and get a few people to nationals and try and beat a team or two on the men’s side,” Nekuda said.
He sees junior Roberto Quintero and senior Edwin Chelashaw as DSU’s best bets in the 8K men’s race and junior Gladys Rotich and sophomore Brittney Young as top candidates in the women’s 5K.
Though it has been very much a building season for the Blue Hawks, Nekuda said he has noticed good progression in the team throughout the season.
“The thing that’s nice about running is you can go back and see what people ran last year and at the beginning of the year,” Nekuda said. “If they’re improving and setting PRs (personal records), that’s all you can ask for, is improvement.
“We’re improving a lot. I’m really happy with the team.”