The Dickinson State cross country team struggled to get a strong grip on the Vancouver, Washington turf Friday in the NAIA nationals, ending the day with a 32nd placement overall for the women’s team. Junior Hunter Flynn, despite defeating his previous time, placed deep in the men’s race.

As head coach Shayne Wittkopp mentioned in the preview on Thursday, the runners struggled to find their grip on the running field, and with over 300 runners competing, for both the men’s and women’s teams, it was a tough day for Dickinson State. For the women’s team, senior Jayce Wilson was the leading runner with a 106 finish. Flynn finished with a 248 placement.

“The course got a lot of real tight turns and narrow alleyways...but the effort was there,” Wittkopp said.

For the women’s team, Wilson finished her career as a Blue Hawk with a large lead over the team, finishing with a time of 19:29.8 and finishing with a placement of 107. Senior Lisa Townsend struggled to find a grip and gain momentum throughout the race and ended with a time of 20:09.5, placing 210 overall.

“It’s an added challenge to running at a national meet...it’s one of those that the margin for error is small, you gotta get out, real, real hard, real early, so that you can get into position. And then you gotta be aerobically strong enough to recover, and Jayce was kind of able to get out and get into position, and Lisa … wasn’t quite able to get into that same position,” Wittkopp said.

Along with Wilson and Townsend, sophomore Emily Kuehn finished shortly after Townsend with a 20:23 time, placing 235. Junior Bailey Smith finished 241 with a time of 20:27.5, and first-year Sarah Griffis ended out the Blue Hawks top five runners with a 303 placement and a time of 22:04.7. First-year Haylie Oberlander finished 317 with a 22:43.7 time; Emily Kolstad followed with a time of 23:28.7, placing 326.

“I was pretty happy with the team’s efforts and performances all the way around … gun goes off, they went out there and they competed hard and that’s what I'm always asking for as a head coach,” Wittkopp said.

As for Flynn, the junior runner attempted to come out and compete as strong and as hard as possible. However, just as it was for the women’s team, he struggled to find his grip on the course with the massive amount of other runners. Flynn would finish 248 with a time of 27.41.

“He wanted to go out there and run a good race, kinda prove that he belongs here on this level and … he was only about 11 seconds too fast on his first thousand meters...the whole pack went out really, really fast … Hunter did run about 35 seconds faster than when he was a freshman here, so he’s happy with that. But, he feels like he’s got a little bit more in him than that time,” Wittkopp said.