by MITCHELL BREUER
The Winona State University men and women cross country teams kicked off their season this past Friday, August 31, in the Augusta Twilight meet, with both placing in the top 10 in team scores with the men in 10th and women in fifth.
Leading the way for the men was senior Jesse Frank, who placed 18th out of 251 runners, with a time of 22:25:60.
“I was both excited and anxious going into the Augustana Twilight meet. I always look forward to the competition, and especially being the first meet of the year, I was eager to see how my summer training would pay off,” Frank said.
To add to an already impressive time was the fact Frank had concerns heading into the event with his calf. Much to his relief, it did not impede his athletic ability.
“Overall, I am very happy with my performance,” Frank said. “While I started the race faster than I would have liked, I accomplished my race goals and placed much better than I did last year. I proved to myself that my hard work over the summer is paying off and is giving me a strong base for this long cross country season.”
For the women, it was junior Anna Rogahn who ran the fastest for the team, placing 14th with a time of 18:16:70.
She described her day as a “step in the right direction,” completing both of the goals she had set for herself, which were placing in the top 20 and improving upon her time from last year (18:32:00).
“Overall, I was very happy with what I accomplished, and even though I accomplished both my goals I still was able to find something I can learn from and work on for the next race,” Rogahn said. “There was a point where I could feel myself get comfortable, for about 500 meters, and at that time I had to decide if was I going to choose to stay here or push through. The Auggie Twilight is always a great way to start off the season, and I hope the season builds off how I performed Friday.”
In addition to being the first meet of the year, it was also the team’s first meet with new head coach Zach Kughn.
“Our first meet with Zach went very well. He is fresh, young and knowledgeable about the sport, which is very clear to see throughout the last few weeks around him. He’s brought many new techniques to the team that I think over time will become positives. He is fun when we can be but, he is not afraid to get to work and push us when the time is right,” Rogahn said. “Switching coaches means a new change of coaching styles, but he has tried his best to make the transition as easy as possible. I’m excited, and I know others on the team are excited to see how he will build this team to become stronger and more powerful within the NSIC.”
Kughn comes to Winona State after serving as a graduate assistant coach for the cross country and track and field teams at Dakota Wesleyan University.
“On behalf of both the men’s and women’s cross country teams, we have a lot of confidence in coach Kughn and his approach to coaching,” Frank said. “In the short amount of time that he has worked with us, he has proven to be very dedicated to WSU’s cross country program, eager to teach his athletes what we need to be successful, and is driven to assist us with becoming the best student-athletes we can be. Despite the big changes with Winona State’s cross country program, coach Kughn has approached the challenges in stride. We are excited to see how coach Kughn will continue to improve our program and help us grow as athletes.”
The next cross country meet will come on September 15, when they will compete in the Augsburg Invitational.