(MSU Billings release)
RAPID CITY, S.D. - Nikki Aiken ran five kilometers in 21:25.40 and took first place in the Hardrocker Cross Country Classic Saturday morning at Robbinsdale Park, marking her first career win. The Montana State University Billings cross country women took third place among four teams and the men finished second of five in the first race of the fall.
Aiken’s time was more than a minute short of her career best, but Saturday’s performance was encouraging given the degree of challenge in the race course and bodes well as a starting point for the rest of the season.
“I told our team before the race not to be too concerned about fast times because this course isn’t set up to break records,” said head coach Jon Woehl. “I wanted both teams to be concerned more about their effort level in this first race and I though everyone opened the season well. We’ve been training hard the last two weeks of practice and though we aren’t a finished product yet, we saw glimpses of potential which is really exciting.”
Aiken took the top spot in the women’s field and was followed by Madison Watson (Chadron State), Adeline Wilson (South Dakota Mines), and Emma Willadson (Chadron State). Kailee Stoppel was the second MSUB scoring runner to cross with a 14th place time of 23:17.11 in the 28 athlete field. Sierra Durbin took 17th (24:30.93) and Miranda Livingston was 21st (25:36.27). Chadron State won the race with a team score of 34, followed by South Dakota Mines, MSU Billings, and Valley City State.
In the men’s eight kilometers, South Dakota Mines dominated the field by placing seven runners inside the top-10. The ‘Jackets weren’t far behind with Ase Ackerman in 13th position (29:21.68), followed by 14th place Logan Straus (29:26.34). Newcomer Bryant Edgerton took 17th (29:48.37) in his first race as a ‘Jacket and veteran Ronald Venema came in right behind in 18th (30:00.52). South Dakota Mines limited team points to 17 in the win, followed by MSU Billings (57), Chadron State (66), Valley City State (105), and Trinity Bible College (132).
“I think for us to go from South Dakota Mines to Rocky Mountain College at Amend Park next week will provide us the opportunity to see a lot of improvement, even with a quick turnaround. Today was a good opener for everyone.”
UP NEXT: Both Yellowjacket cross country teams compete next in the Frontier Preview Open September 13 at Amend Park in Billings. They then have two weeks to train for the Roy Griak Invitational September 28 in Minneapolis.