RECAP: USF Men's Team wins first-ever NSIC Cross Country title; Women's Team finish program-best 4th

ABERDEEN – Led by individual champion Steven Brown, the No. 14 ranked University of Sioux Falls Men's Cross Country Team placed four runners in the top-five and captured the first Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title in school history in cold and damp conditions at the Lee Park Golf Course in Aberdeen, S.D. Taryn Ceglowski finished a program DII-best fifth and led the USF Women's Team to fourth-place finish, which is the best team finish ever at USF.

USF Head Coach Doug Petersen was named the NSIC Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year. He is the first USF cross country coach named league coach of the year. In total, USF had four men's student-athletes named first team All-NSIC while Ceglowski earned first team for the women's team. Kiara Mattern was a second team selection.

Following the meet, which was hosted by Northern State, Petersen was ecstatic with the performance of both the men's and women's teams, which included team-best finishes for both squads and career-best by a number of runners. On the men's side, six of USF's top seven runners had career-best performances. On the women's team, nine runners registered career-best times with some beating their previous best time by at least two minutes.

"I felt like we had some really great efforts by our team today. Both teams were focused and ready," said Petersen. "Certainly, we are proud of winning the program's first DII conference crown but a fourth place finish by the women's team was also outstanding. Today, everyone stepped up and did what we were looking for from them," he said.

The USF men's team began the season with a goal of winning a league title and it came to fruition in dominating style. Now, the USF Men's Team will head to the Central Region Championships on Nov. 17 in Joplin, Mo., with a lot of momentum and a league crown in their hands.

"Certainly, we had some outstanding efforts with Steven (Brown) winning a title and the entire team running spectacularly," said Peterson. "I am just really pleased with the effort from everyone today."

USF, which unseated the nine-time defending champs and city rivals Augustana, had the individual league champion for the second straight season. And, USF finished with student-athletes in the top three spots for the first time in school history. In fact, USF had the top three finishers for the first team at the NSIC meet since Augustana did it in 2012.

Brown clocked a 24:11.10 over 8,000 meters and finished with his best performance to date while becoming the third student-athlete from USF to win an NSIC title (Mason Phillips, 2017; Bobby Brockmueller, 2014). Brown, who bettered his career best 8,000 meters time of 24:35.4 by 24 seconds, edged the defending champion Mason Phillips, who clocked a 24:18.8. Zach Lundberg, a junior, clocked a personal-best of 24:27.10 in finishing a career-best third at the league championships. Lundberg, who was 17th at the league meet two years ago, had a previous best in the 8K of 25:14.4 as he bettered his mark by 47 seconds. Senior Jase Kraft tied a career-high with his fifth-place finish but set a career-best mark in the 8K distance with his clocking of 24:38.22 bettering his previous mark of 25:06 by 28 seconds. Junior Billy Beseman finished 22nd in 25:09.40 which was a career-best by nearly 37 seconds. As a group, USF averaged an incredible 24:32.32.

Brown, Phillips, Lundberg and Kraft all earned first team All-NSIC honors. Brown and Phillips were named to the all-league team for a second straight year. Lundberg was a second team honoree in 2016 while Kraft picked up his third All-NSIC honor (17th, 2nd team, 2014, 5th, first team, 2015).

Also for USF, junior Dan Armstrong finished 38th in 25:47.80, which was his career-best by 32 seconds. Freshman Shodo Mohamed was 48th in 26:06.70, which bettered his career mark by six seconds. Other USF results included freshman Aaron Voigt, 59th, 26:21.30, who bettered his career mark by 38 seconds; senior Josh Liester, 63rd, 26:29.30; freshman David Ecker, 73rd, 26:52.10; sophomore Logan Hansen, 96th, 27:43.70 and junior Blake Johnston, 98th, 27:50.60.

With her fifth place finish today, Ceglowski recorded the highest finish ever at the NSIC Championships by a women's team member, which had been held by Sierra Harder, who was sixth in 2013. Ceglowski, who earned her second straight first team All-NSIC honor, also clocked the fastest time by a USF women's runner at the league meet with a clocking of 21:34.90 which was a personal-best by 20.9 seconds. As a result, USF finished with its best team result since joining the league in 2012.

The Cougars, which were picked to finish sixth in the NSIC Preseason Poll, had a big jump as Ceglowski and her teammates performed at a high level. Sophomore Kiara Mattern was 20th in 22:09.30, which was an amazing improvement over her previous best by 1:16.4. Senior Rebecca Goertzen finished 28th with a clocking of 22:38.10, which was a jump of 11 seconds over her career-best mark. Also finishing in the top-60 at the league meet was junior Montana Belford who finished 55th with a clocking of 23:39.30. She improved her all-time 6K mark by 42 seconds. Freshman Maria Streed had a 6K time of 23:47.20 to finish 59th. Streed ran the second 6K race of her young career at USF and improved her time by 1:15.5.

Other USF finishers including senior Keegan Day, 81st, 24:27.0; sophomore Sadie Thompson, 86th, 24:36.50; freshman Tianna Wald, 88th, 24:37.70 (career best by 2:04); freshman Abbi Hanna, 93rd, 24:44.80 (career-best by 2:23); senior Mattisen Kelley, 105th, 25:30.30 (career-best by 14 seconds); and sophomore Annabelle Schulz, 130th, 27:04.60 (career- best by 2:02).

Next for the USF Women's Cross Country Team will be the Central Region Championships in Joplin, Mo., on Nov. 17.