Cross country

Augustana Twilight 8:30 p.m. Friday, September 5, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Meet location

Yankton Trails Park
3901 S Minnesota Ave
Sioux Falls, S.D.

Host school

Located in Sioux Falls, S.D., Augustana College is a member of the North Central Conference.
Cross Country Teams Make Season Debut

The Event...The Northwestern College cross country teams will make their season debut at the Augustana Twilight held in Sioux Falls, S.D. The women’s race starts at 8:30 with the men to follow at about 9:15.  The races are run at Yankton Trails Park in Sioux Falls, S.D. The women’s race will cover the one mile loop three times while the men’s race will cover four miles.

Teams Competing...Several NAIA and NCAA Division II teams will compete in the races and there are five NCAA I schools also scheduled to participate.

Last Year...The men's team placed seventh out of 19 teams and the women placed 11th out of 19 teams. 

The men's team totaled 200 points and placed seventh out of 19 teams in a field that featured teams from NCAA D-I, D-II, D-III and the NAIA. Northwestern was third among GPAC teams, finishing in back of Morningside and Dordt. Will Norris, competing in his first collegiate race, was the top Red Raider finisher, placing 28th out of 231 runners with a time of 19:58 in the four mile race. Kyle Anderson crossed the finish line in 38th place with a time of 20:12 and Logan Hovland was just behind at 20:17 and in 45th place. Skyler Giddings (48th-20:19), Taylor Bodin (84th-21:00) and Caleb VanderBaan (90th-21:04) round out the top five for the Red Raiders. 

The women's team totaled 291 points and placed 11th out of 19 teams but were fifth out of the NAIA teams competing. Senior Dawn Gildersleeve crossed the tape in 45th place with a time of 18:12 to lead the Red Raiders. Sophomore Kelley Thurman placed 52nd with a time of 18:21 in the three mile race and Amber Sandbulte finished 67th with a time of 18:41. Jackie Niewenhuis (72nd-18:55), Sarah Wittenberg (87th-19:13) and Heather Heilman (89th-19:16) round out the top Northwestern finishers. 

About Northwestern...The women's team returns six of its top nine runners from a 2013 squad that finished seventh out of 11 teams at the GPAC Championship. Senior Amber Sandbulte finished 45th at last year's GPAC Championship and was one of the Red Raiders top runners in every race. Four additional seniors, Sarah Wittenberg, Talitha Witt, Jill (McInnis) Cunard and Sarah Wittenberg all return after being among the team's top runners last year. All four competed at the GPAC Championship with Wittenberg (51st) and Heilman (59th) being the top finishers among the group. Junior Kelley Thurman returns after a strong sophomore campaign where she was one of the team's top runners in every meet. Thurman placed 28th at the GPAC Championship and finished in the top 10 two times. 

The men's team returns eight of its top 10 runners off a 2013 squad that finished tied with Doane for fifth place at the conference championship. Northwestern earned votes in the NAIA coaches' poll for much of the season and brings back one runner, sophomore Will Norris, who earned all-conference honors and qualified for the NAIA National Championship. 

Like the women's squad, the men's team returns a strong senior class, led by Skyler Giddings, Logan Hovland and Anthony Epp, who all were among the top runners last season. Hovland finished in the top 25 five times and was 24th at the GPAC Championships. Giddings placed just outside the top 25 at the conference meet but placed in the top 25 in three races. Epp finished in the top 25 in two races and placed 66th at the GPAC Championship. Juniors Kyle Anderson, Caleb VanderBaan and Elliot Stoltz all return and all were among the Red Raiders top runners. Anderson recorded one top 10 finish and three in the top 25, placing 22nd at the GPAC Championship. Norris anchors a sophomore class after placing in the top 10 in four meets in 2013. He was one of the team's top two runners in every meet. 

Both teams have several newcomers that will contribute. 

Up Next...The Red Raiders will compete in the Herb Blakely Invite hosted by Dakota State University next weekend, Sept. 13. 

Will Norris

Senior from Spirit Lake, Iowa