The USF women's cross country team placed three runners in the top 10 to claim the team title Saturday at the Dakota State University/Herb Blakey Invitational held at the Madison Country Club in Madison, S.D.
The Cougars scored 30 points to place first out of four squads, while South Dakota State finished second at 36 points. Host Dakota State scored 75 points to come in third.
USF junior Shelbie Pettie crossed the finish line first in 18:42, ahead of 28 other competitors on the 5K course. The first-place finish continued what has been a solid season so far for the New Windsor, Il. native, who took 14th last week at the Nike Heartland Pre-regional.
"Shelbie did a great job of keeping the pace really strong throughout and helped to challenge herself and all the other girls to run at a very high level," said Gene Brooks, Director of USF Track & Field and Cross Country.
Sophomore Sierra Harder (Mountain Lake, Minn.) followed closely behind Pettie, finishing second with a time of 19:10, while freshman Becca Steadman clocked 19:31 to come in fourth.
USF's younger runners also gained some valuable experience, as freshman Lindsey Mettler (Wessington Springs) and Sara Watt (Yankton) took 12th and 14th respectively. Sophomore Carrie King (Oakland, Neb.) in 15th place and senior Taryn Sahli (Rapid City) in 16th place rounded out the competitors for the Cougars.
"It was nice for our team to go out there and push themselves really hard and compete the way we want to race at meets later in the year," Brooks said. "It's something that will give our women's team more confidence and also help them get mentally prepared for our racing in the weeks ahead."
On the men's side, the immediate impact of USF's newcomers was showcased, as freshmen Jared Noyes and Brady Ihnen finished first and third as the USF men's cross country team tied for first in the Herb Blakely Invitational.
The Cougars totaled 33 points, tying with host Dakota State. Briar Cliff took third.
Noyes (Redfield) raced to a first-place finish in 26:09 on the 8K course and classmate Ihnen (Tea) was close behind him, crossing the finish line at 26:29.
"Jared and Brady both arrived on campus with a tremendous work ethic," Brooks said. "They have worked hard to get better at every practice, and I'm very proud of what they both accomplished today."
Sophomore Blake Stevenson (Aberdeen) placed 10th (27:59) while sophomore Blaze Killian (Brandon) came in 12th (28:43).
Tyler Voss (Chanhassen, Minn.) posted a time of 29:58 to finish 22nd overall, while Grant Schouten (Hawarden, Iowa) was 24th with a time of 30:21.
Matt Wattier (Conde) rounded out the Cougar finishers with a time of 30:24 to finish in 25th place.
Both cross country squads will race again on October 1, at the South Dakota State University Classic in Brookings.