Dickinson State cross country looks to carry momentum after last season's success
The faces of this year's Dickinson State men's cross country team look a lot different than the faces of last year's team. All three seniors from last season's conference champion have graduated, and another three are gone for various personal re...
The faces of this year's Dickinson State men's cross country team look a lot different than the faces of last year's team.
All three seniors from last season's conference champion have graduated, and another three are gone for various personal reasons.
The lone top runner left from last season, and the lone senior on this year's team, is Jonathan Aman. The roster of eight is made up of Aman, three transfers from Bakersfield College and Bakersfield, Calif., two freshmen and two other sophomore returners.
With more new teammates than old ones, there is some uncertainty entering the season. But this offseason, Aman made sure one of those question marks wouldn't be team chemistry.
"I think the major thing we did, in the first week that we all met each other, was the team bonding stuff, just getting to know each other," Aman said. "I told them immediately, 'It's one thing to work hard on the courses together, but if you don't know the guy you're running next to, then why would you want to run harder for him? There would be no point if you weren't close.'"
While the Blue Hawks have their annual DSU Twilight Team Time Trials - an intrasquad scrimmage - this Thursday, both team's first meet of the year will be on Sept. 9 in Minneapolis, at the MSU Moorhead Randy Smith Invite.
Aman, a Las Vegas native, said his bond with the California runners - Daniel Aguirre, Christopher Moreno and Richard Timmermans - grew particularly quickly, in part because all of them are from the West Coast.
"We just have a togetherness already and we all want to work hard together," he said. "If it comes down to it, no one is going to have a problem going all out at the line."
Despite holding the conference title from a season ago, the Blue Hawks were voted second in the North Star Athletic Association Preseason Coaches poll, while Waldorf College came in first.
From head coach Ben Shroyer's point of view, the ranking was because of his team's high turnover and a strong job of offseason recruiting by Waldorf. But he didn't put much thought in the poll, instead choosing to focus on the long haul.
"It's just going to be take time. Time will tell. A lot of questions and unknowns," Shroyer said. "It'll be our Jamestown meet (Oct. 1) until we really know where we're at, and how we stack up in the conference. That's how I'm looking at it at least. But our goal is to win conference again, both men and women, because we want to go back to Nationals."
On the women's side, which joined the men's team last season in winning the NSAA and taking its first ever trip to the NAIA National Cross Country Championship in North Carolina, things appear more concrete.
The women were unanimously voted first in the same preseason poll, and technically return their top five finishers, although Austyn Copp, last year's top runner, may miss the entire season with a knee injury.
"The women's side I think we should be tough," said Shroyer, whose women's roster also stands at eight. "But in our situation, we have to have freshmen step up and be a part of the team because we don't have 20 women on the team. They don't have a year or two to step in."
Along with the two freshmen are two sophomores, two juniors and two seniors. Junior Ashly Kraenzel, who redshirted last season for medical reasons, is back with the team after finishing as the Blue Hawks' top runner in 2014. She figures be a big part of the team's success in the absence of Copp.
"It's not really necessarily about coming in and replacing (Copp); I don't feel like you can do that because every person has a different facet that they are going to bring to the team," Kraenzel said. "But I'm just coming in and hoping that I can maybe add something and see what I can do."