After a few weeks of training and hosting an alumni meet, Gustavus Cross Country officially opened the 2019 season with a trip to the Crown Invite last weekend. Both the men’s and women’s teams took first place out of three teams.
On the men’s side, the Gusties return 22 runners and add nine new members, while the women return 22 and add ten first-years.
The teams had a week of practice before welcoming alumni back to campus for their first unofficial meet on August 24.
The race took place in the Linnaeus Arboretum and featured a split 5K. Junior Kourtney Kulseth won the women’s race with a time of 19:18, while Nichole Porath ‘05 and Kate Eggers-Leaf ‘13 took second and third.
Eggers-Leaf was a member of the last MIAC champion women’s team from Gustavus back in 2012.
The current team won the women’s event 27-32.
Alex Wischnack ‘19 was the first man to cross the finish line with a time of 16:21, and was followed closely by Junior Jeremy Gilbertson who earned second place with a time of 16:31. James Sorenson ‘05 finished in third place and the 2019 Gusties edged the alumni squad 24-35.
“We love having everyone back. We really look at this team as a family. This is years in the making and so many people are proud of this program. To have everyone back celebrating is awesome,” Head Coach Brenden Huber said.
The alumni meet is an annual event that serves as an opportunity to shake some rust off and reconnect with generations of Gustie runners.
“We’re excited to go to Crown to turn it up a little more and keep building toward the MIAC Championships at the end of the year. We’re still spinning the wheels, getting the first-years more experience, and knocking the rust off the returners,” Huber said.
With another week of practice under their belt, the Gusties traveled to Saint Bonifacius, MN last Saturday to run in the Crown Invite.
The Gustie men ran a 6k against Saint Thomas and Martin Luther, while the women’s race was a 5k with Crown College and Martin Luther.
The four fastest women were all Gusties, once again led by Kulseth, who crossed the finish line in 19:46.53. Senior Tierney Winter took second place with 20:07.44 and two first-years rounded out the top four. Carissa Vanderwal and Julia Severson finished third and fourth overall with times of 20:44.96 and 20:54.43, respectively. Iliana Ramon was the final point-scorer for the Gusties, finishing in sixth place with a time of 21:22.79.
The final score of the event was 16 points for Gustavus, compared to 51 for Crown and 74 from Martin Luther.
“The Crown course was slightly wet so it made for some interesting racing conditions in some areas. Overall though, Crown is a great confidence builder because of the way many raced it. We started out more conservatively and built into the race. As a team, racing like that and being able to stay in packs and working together really builds confidence on the team,” Kulseth said after the race.
The three fastest men were also Gusties, this time led by returning USTFCCCA All-Region runner Andrew Stumbo.
Stumbo, a junior, finished first with a time of 20:45.35 and was followed by sophomores Garret Grant and Jack Degonda, who crossed the finish line in 20:53.62 and 20:56.29, respectively.
First-year Tucker Wallin finished in fifth place with a time of 20:57.52 and Sophomore Ben Wicklund rounded out the Gusties’ top five with a time of 20:58.07 that was good for sixth place overall.
With that, the Gusties totalled 17 points, while Saint Thomas followed with 46 points and Martin Luther finished in third with 85 points.
“We took another step forward as a team and many individuals improved their times. It was a good opportunity for us to compete early in the season and we’re looking forward to the next challenge,” Coach Huber said.
The Gusties’ next meet will be the Running of the Cows at Carleton on September 21.