Updated: Oct 25, 2019
Men's preview written by Quenten Lasseter
Women's preview written by Grace McLaughlin
Sioux Falls will be looking to defend their 2018 NSIC title, but they will have major work to do in order to defend their title this year. The Cougars have had a bit of a down year thus far compared to last season’s impressive 5th place finish at Nationals.
At the Roy Griak Invitational and the Lewis Crossover meet, Sioux Falls finished behind conference rival Augustana ain both races. Although they do have a strong top three, the team is missing a consistent and proven backend at the #4 and #5 positions.
Coming into the preseason, we thought that there would be a three-headed monster at the top with Mason Phillips, Steven Brown and Zach Lundberg. As of now, Brown has really been the only living up to the hype. Phillips has had a down year compared to his 2018 campaign (although he's still producing respectable results) and Lundberg hasn't really added a ton of scoring potency.
The Cougars' top five spread at the Lewis Crossover was a whole two minutes. If they want to repeat as champions, they will have to find a way to bring their top three back together and use that to their advantage as they aren't as deep as the Augustana men are.
Augustana, our TSR #7 ranked team in the nation, is on the prowl to take the NSIC out of Sioux Falls' hands. The Vikings really put their name on the map earlier this season after winning the Roy Griak Invitational. They continued to make improvements at the Lewis Crossover meet by placing 3rd overall against some of the best teams in the country.
Aaron Runge and Jesus Urtusuatsegui have been the lead runners throughout the season for the Vikings. Along with Nathan Schroeder usually serving as their #3 man, it ultimately doesn't matter. It feels like this entire top five is interchangeable and that is huge when it comes to team racing.
Team racing is the only kind of racing that the Vikings like to really do. Their pack spread at the Roy Griak Invitational was 1:13 between their top five. If we reference what we mentioned earlier, that's 47 seconds better than that of Sioux Falls.
This rivalry runs deep and this weekend's race is going to be one for the books, you can mark our words.
1. Augustana (S.D.) Vikings
2. Sioux Falls Cougars
3. Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs
1. Steven Brown (Sioux Falls)
2. Aaron Runge (Augustana)
3. Nadir Yusuf (MSU-Moorhead)
4. Jesus Urtusuastegui (Augustana)
5. Nathan Schroeder (Augustana)
6. Mason Phillips (Sioux Falls)
7. Zach Lundberg (Sioux Falls
8. Austin Miller (Augustana)
9. Benjamin Allen (Concordia-St. Paul)
10. Skylar DeJong (Augustana)
The Vikings of Augustana University are the favorites going into the meet. They started their season off with a 3rd place finish at the Augustana Twilight Meet, then they won the Roy Griak Invitational, and had a runner-up performance in their last race at the Lewis Conference Crossover. Claire Boersma, Cait Savey, and Nicolette Schmidt have been consistent low-sticks for the Vikings so far this year, acting as the main source of their scoring potency. The most impressive part of this team is their pack consisting of Rebekah Rairdon, Rachel Rairdon, Callin Naddy, Haylee Waterfall, and Patty Jo English. Their front-runners and strong supporting scorers make them lethal on the grass.
The only other team that should put up a fight for the conference title is the Marauders of U-Mary. They started their season off with a 1st place finish at the MSU-Moorhead Dragon Invitational and followed it up with a runner-up result at Roy Griak.
We should expect Ida Narbuvoll, Starlynn Costa, Kayla Ogle, Kiran Green, and Bree Erickson to be the scoring five. They have a clear front-runner and sidekick duo in Ida Narbuvoll and Starlynn Costa. The rest of their pack isn’t too far behind, but keeping the team close will be vital if they want to beat Augustana. U-Mary should have another impressive performance this weekend and a conference title is very much within their grasp.
Following two of the top teams in the country is the Winona State Warriors. They started off their season with a 7th place finish at the Augustana Twilight Meet, followed by an impressive 11th place finish at the Lewis Conference Crossover, and then a win at the Lucian Rosa Invitational.
Nikki Staffen, Nicole Kelley, Olivia Anger, Anna Roghan, and Alli Hendrickson have all brought underrated consistency to their team this year and it's been the biggest reason why they have had success. There is a solid group of women behind Hendrickson and any of them could infiltrate the top five for this team. Winona State has depth and consistency. They have set themselves up for a great postseason.
We're predicting the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs to take the 4th spot. They started their season with a 2nd place finish at the Oz Memorial Invite, then an 8th place finish at Roy Griak, and a 12th place finish at the Lewis Crossover Classic. I expect their top five to be Mackenzie Hall, Morgan Radel, Melissa Dreckhahn, Haleigh Reindl, and Elizabeth Schlafke. It should be a fun competition between Winona State and Minnesota-Duluth for bronze.
The Beavers of Minot State are another notable team going into the meet. They were runner-up at the MSU-Moorhead Dragon Twilight Meet, 7th at the Southern Stampede, 9th at Roy Griak, and 4th at the University of North Dakota Ron Pynn Classic. Their top runners have rotated throughout the season, but have consisted of Ashley Franco, Whitney Hanson, Lauren Reeves, Abigail McGee, Nina Arias, Andrea Franco, and Kelci Lovercheck.
On the individual side of things, the women of Augustana (S.D.) and U-Mary could take the top 10 spots (yes, just those two teams alone). The undeniable favorite to win the race is Ida Narbuvoll of U-Mary. Teammates Starlynn Costa and Kayla Ogle should also be up-front. Claire Boersma, Cait Savey, and Nicolette Schmidt of Augustana should all be in the mix as well.
1. Augustana (S.D.)
2. U-Mary Marauders
3. Winona State Warriors
1. Ida Narbuvoll (U-Mary)
2. Claire Boersma (Augustana (S.D.))
3. Nicollette Schmidt (Augustana (S.D.))
4. Cait Savey (Augustana (S.D.))
5. Starlynn Costa (U-Mary)
6. Kayla Ogle (U-Mary)
7. Rebekah Riordan (Augustana (S.D.))
8. Haley Waterfall (Augustana (S.D.))
9. Rachel Riordan (Augustana (S.D.))
10. Callin Naddy (Augustana (S.D.))