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DSU men’s XC ranked No. 19 in coaches’ poll

The rankings are in and the Dickinson State men’s cross country team is pleased.

In Thursday’s Top 25 NAIA coaches’ poll, the Blue Hawks are ranked No. 19 after finishing second overall at the Mount Marty Invitational on Saturday in Yankton, S.D.

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DSU head coach Mike Nekuda is very happy with where his team is at and said it gives his team a good understanding of where they are and need to be to make the NAIA championships on Nov. 23 in Lawrence, Kansas.

“We are in total control whether we go into nationals as a team now,” Nekuda said. ”But now we control our own destiny. If we go run well at conferences, we don’t have to win the meet but if we take second and run tough, the chances to going to nationals are very very good.”

At Mount Marty, DSU beat two ranked opponents, No 18 Morningside College (Iowa) and No. 23 Dordt College (Iowa), and sophomore Dante Carter took first overall which also earned him the Frontier Conference runner of the week award. Carter, who ran a time of 25 minutes, 24 seconds, wasn’t even aware that he was named runner of the week or the honor was real.

“I honestly didn’t know the award was even in existence because no one from Dickinson State typically receives things like this because all the others schools surrounding us are so talented,” Carter said. “It’s an honor and I feel like I put it out there for my team this week, so it’s nice to get something personal.”

Being ranked No. 19 before the Frontier Conference championships on Nov. 8 is not only a confidence booster for the Blue Hawks, but also gives them something to fall back on for nationals in case the team doesn’t win at conferences.

To qualify, the team who wins its conference championship receives an automatic bid for nationals and the remaining teams that rank in the top 22 receive at-large bids. The ultimate goal for DSU’s men is to qualify as a team and as of this week, their chances look good.

“The fact that we are No. 19 is our plan B,” Carter said. “That means not only do we have to run to win, we also to run to compete and have a fast team average, so in the event we don’t win (conferences) we can make it the following Monday through the rankings.”

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.