HELENA — The Carroll College men’s and women's cross country teams took home the Frontier Conference title, earning them an automatic bid to the NAIA National Cross Country Meet.
The men enter the tournament 23rd in the country and the women 19th.
“Really proud that we were able to come in and accomplish what we wanted to. It was a feeling of also relief of alright, we did the first hard part now we get to go to Nationals and continue our season,” senior runner Reghan Worley said.
On the women's team, they say their depth is what has made them so successful this season.
"It's not something we've really experienced in the past. We just have we have 18 Girls, and we're just stacked from number one to number 18. Very competitive all the way through," Worley said.
On the men's side, they also point to head coach Flynn's ability to recruit and the team atmosphere she's created.
"Coach Flynn building that family culture, making it a goal to eat together, having meals together, do just do fun things together and get to know each other outside of running. And it just makes us care about each other as people, I think. And when you're in a race, and you're exhausted, you're worn out, I mean, you got your friends right next to you, depending on you, and it just gives you a little more edge to keep going," junior James Normandeau said.
"I think also, Coach Flynn does a great job recruiting. And we plug into the right bodies into our system in our program. And we've built a culture to this point where we kind of have a set of expectations that people are looking to live up to and we're all bought in for each other," senior Spencer Swaim added.
The teams’ successful showings throughout the season has earned four men and four women All-Conference Selections, and head coach Shannon Flynn earned her third consecutive Coach of the Year honor.
“She's really developed a team culture where we want to succeed, we want to be all conference, we want to be that Top 15 Top 10 at Nationals. And I think that has been demonstrated,” Worley said.
“Just seeing how much he wants to give to the program really just, I mean, it's inspiration, at least to me, how much I want to be able to contribute. Coach Flynn has made something really special. And people are really bought in and they want to work to see the results,” Normandeau said of his head coach.
The men will be attending nationals for the third time in Flynn's four year tenure. This will be the women's fourth time at nationals with Flynn. But she says this time feels different.
“I think this really feels like the first year where both teams are really competitive and ranked high. And just looking not just to be happy to be there, but to go there and hopefully make some waves then and be able to move up in the rankings from where we are,” the head coach said.
In the meantime, Flynn says the Saints are working on staying healthy, getting caught up on school work, and getting in plenty of carbs.
"We're really in a period of the year where we're not going to gain any more fitness. We're just trying to get to the line healthy," she said.
The Saints will take on the Apalachee Regional Park course in Tallahassee, Fla. on Friday November 18th in the NAIA National Meet.