The Minnesota State men’s cross country team was selected to finish second in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll, while the women’s cross country team was projected to finish third in their own poll.
Beginning with the men, they received 123 points in the NSIC Coaches Poll behind only Augustana University. The Auggies have won 12 of the last 13 NSIC Championships and top the list once again.
Back to the Mavs, their season came to an end last year at the NCAA Central Region Championship where they finished twelfth of 35 teams. Tanner Maier was a standout from that team, and he was recognized with All-Region Honors at the end of their season.
This season, Maier returns for his senior year, along with junior Ray Ure, who finished with All-NSIC Second Team Honors. Head Coach Ben Held leads the pack again this season, in his sixth season with the Mavs. Held, Maier and Ure are the trio of veterans at the top, but this roster contains just one senior, although having five juniors.
With four meets on the calendar for the fall, the Mavs will have to make their mark in only just over a month of time before the NSIC Championships Oct. 21. They will begin with the Augie Twilight Sept. 1, Running of the Cows Sept. 16, Roy Griak Invitational Sept. 22 and Bob Waxlax Invite Oct. 6 before championships and regionals come around.
Heading into this season, the big story around the women’s team has been their former senior captain, Amanda Montplaisir being named the NSIC NCAA Woman of the Year candidate. The Woman of the Year recognizes student-athletes for excellence in academics, athletics, community service and leadership throughout their college careers.
However, Montplaisir has graduated and will no longer be a part of the team, and a new group of seniors will have to rise up and take her place. MaKenna Thurston, Madelyn Skjeveland, Megan Narveson, Marissa Ellenbecker and Maggie Anderson are the five seniors on the team this year, a promising number.
Head Coach Jen Blue is back again as well, returning for her 24th season with the team. After being hired in 2000, Blue has been a huge reason for the Mavs’ success over time. Blue is a versatile coach who has also taken the head coaching role for the women’s cross country team on top of her duties in the fall.
The women have the same schedule as the men, participating in the Augie Twilight, Running of the Cows, Roy Griak Invitational and Bob Waxlax Invite before championships and nationals in late October and November.
With some promising projections and a lot of returning talent, Mavs cross country is in for another year of excitement.
Header photo: Both cross country teams were ranked inside of the top five in the NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. (File photo)
Write to Hayden Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org