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Cross country opens season strong at twilight meet

Cross country opens season strong at twilight meet
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Simpson cross country teams opened the 2015 season at the annual Augustana Twilight on Friday evening. The women placed 10th of 20 teams while the men came in 15th of 20.

A large field of nearly 500 competitors sweated through a hot, humid night at the Yankton Trails. The men's field consisted of 266 runners and the women's race featured 211 runners coming from all divisions.

A pair of newcomers in Rebecca Diemer and Stacie Ahlers paced the women's squad. A junior transfer from Iowa State, Diemer took 22nd overall, navigating the 3-mile course in 18:12.20. Ahlers, another junior who transferred from AIB, placed 46th in 18:44.20.

Top returner Briana McCloskey came in 88th (19:31.60), as Simpson was without two of its top sophomores. Saddie Timms and Courtney Neuendorf missed the meet due to illness.

"Tonight was a great start for our ladies," head coach Heath Moenck said. "We were short-handed, but it was great to see a couple of newcomers make an immediate impact. Rebecca's race was exceptional.

Simpson finished with 316 points, 75 ahead of the No. 9 team in the North Region, Minnesota-Morris.

Augustana won the college division race with 46 points and Nebraska won the university division with 26 points. Nebraska's Bonnie Smith won the individual competition, breaking the tape in 16:48.40.

Women's 3-Mile Top Finishers: 22. Rebecca Diemer, 18:12.20; 46. Stacie Ahlers, 18:44.20; 88. Briana McCloskey, 19:31.60; 92. Jessica Gronke, 19:39.60; 108. Breanna Gaster, 19:53.40; 124. Shelby Hunemiller, 20:13.40; 134. Peyton Bourgeois, 20:29.00

The Storm's top runner from a year ago, Nick Yaeger led the team with a 76th-place finish, finishing the 4-mile course in 21:04.65. Sophomore Ian McKenzie also cracked the top 100, placing 84th in 21:14.08.

"Our men opened the season with a quality race," Moenck said. "Nick and Ian ran well and looked very comfortable. I look forward to building off the race and seeing improvement as we continue the season."

Miles Kirts came in 116th (21:45.46) and freshman Trey Thompson had a solid showing, placing 140th (22:02.64). Returners Ethan Pellegrino, Andrew Mayes and Salem Hildebrandt rounded out the top seven.

Simpson finished with 397 points. Sioux Falls won the college division crown with 56 and Nebraska won the university division with 16 points. Nebraska's Peter Spinks won the individual title, finishing in 18:57.95.

Men's 4-Mile Top Finishers: 76. Nick Yaeger, 21:04.65; 84. Ian McKenzie, 21:14.08; 116. Miles Kirts, 21:45.46; 140. Trey Thompson, 22:02.64; 146. Ethan Pellegrino, 22:08.19; 151. Andrew Mayes, 22:13.08; 159. Salem Hildebrandt, 22:25.14

Simpson will send a handful of junior varsity runners to the Grand View Viking Invitational in Des Moines on Friday, Sept. 18. The varsity is off until the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational in Rock Island, Ill. on Friday, Sept. 25.