(MSUB Athletics photo)

(MSUB Athletics release)

SPEARFISH. S.D. – The cross country season got underway on Friday as Montana State University Billings traveled to the Gage McSpadden Invitational hosted by Black Hills State University. The Yelllowjackets had seven men entered into the 6K run while MSUB was represented by six women in the 4,300-meter race.

Senior Jorey Egeland led the pack for the men’s team as the captain earned second place with his time of 18:37.8. He finished with an average mile just under five minutes. At last year’s invite, Egeland finished the 6K in 20:29.3, good enough for third.

“Jorey did a great job leading the men and worked hard to finish second overall,” head coach Jonathan Woehl said.

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Tyus Mendoza also cracked the top-10 on the men’s side as the junior recorded a 19:24.7 and finished seventh. It was Mendoza’s first top-10 of his MSUB cross country career after never finishing above 14th in his first two seasons.

For the women, sophomore captain Nikki Aiken made a strong push for the ‘Jackets in the 4,300-meter finishing just over a second outside of the top-five. Her sixth place finish matches her result from last year’s invite but her time of 16:41.5 is over 16 seconds better than last year’s mark.

“Overall it was a good start to the season,” Woehl said of the event. “We wanted to do better but it was a good effort and gives us the opportunity to learn and improve over the next week. We’ve been focused on our endurance in our training sessions and now we can introduce some more speed in the coming weeks to bring our times down.”

Senior Bailey Bomar finished in 14th with a time of 17:48.5, two spots ahead of fellow senior Kelby Wegner (18:07.3). A group of three ‘Jackets finished 18-20 led by Catrina Schuchard (18:09.4) followed by Kateri Bridges (18:50.3) and sophomore Ella McKenzie (19:17.4). The Yellowjackets placed third with a total time of 1:29.36.

“Bailey and Kelby had strong finishes even though they didn’t feel their best today,” Woehl added. “Catrina showed her improvement from last season and I look forward to seeing more this year.”

Ivan Colmenero cracked the top-15 in the 6K with his 19:52.3 landing the junior in 14th place. It is his best collegiate finish in a cross country event and his first attempt at the Gage McSpadden Invitational. Ronald Venema (20:29.5) finished 24th while freshmen Carson Jessop (20:50.1), Jack Pickell (21:03.2) and Drake Henson (21:49.6) finished 28th, 31st, and 34th respectively.

MSUB will compete again next Saturday in Bozeman, Mont., at the Montana State Invitational. Egeland was the top finisher for the men last year in Bozeman while Aiken had the second best time for the Yellowjackets behind Rio Frame. The meet starts at 9 a.m. at the Bridger Creek Country Club.