MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Wichita State men’s cross country team beat six regionally-ranked teams to finish seventh out of 17, and the women placed 17th out of 20 Friday morning at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The men finished ahead of all five Midwest region teams, including Minnesota (Midwest No. 9) and South Dakota State (Midwest No. 10).
“I think it was a very solid race for us,” head coach Kirk Hunter said. “We didn’t hit on all cylinders in terms of racing, but that’s part of it when you have a cross country meet. As a team, we did very well in a very strong, competitive field.”
Clayton Duchatschek led the way for the men with a 27th-place finish (24:53.6) in the 8K, followed by Ben Flowers, who passed 27 people in the final 3,000 meters to place 33rd (24:58.1).
Sophomore transfer from Cowley CC, Adrian Diaz-Lopez, made his Shocker debut, recording the third-best finish. He finished less than a second behind Flowers to place 34th (24:58.8) after being the top Shocker through about 6,000 meters.
“Adrian had no fear,” Hunter said. “For a guy to come in and step on the line at probably 80% of his fitness and lead the team until maybe 2K to go was a huge impact on our team score. He was out there, and he was aggressive, and he ran very well for his first time out, so we are extremely excited about what the future holds when he’s 100%.”
Jackson Caldwell and Bryce Merriman rounded out the scoring for the Shockers, placing 69th (25:29.3) and 76th (25:35.5), respectively.
“We’ve got to close the gaps in the middle there,” Hunter said. “It was such a large race that they lost contact and didn’t see each other, and it just turned into one of those things where we got separated, but I was really pleased with the seventh place today. It was a strong performance up here in Minnesota.”
On the women’s side, Abeba Sullivan and Sarah Bertry returned to racing after a week off and led the Shocker women through their first 6K race of the season. They earned the top two Wichita State finishes, placing 54th (21:58.6) and 95th (22:38.3), respectively.
“Abeba and Sarah had a great showing today,” Hunter said. “The [rest of the] women had a tough road because they only raced six days ago, so they didn’t get a chance to recover. We took a chance, but now we can get back on a regular training cycle and get our whole women’s team together to see what we can really do.”
Lubna Aldulaimi (124th; 23:16.7), Jenna Muma (143rd; 23:40.2) and Lea Jerkovic (147th; 23:41.9) also scored for the women.
“I’m proud of all the girls,” Hunter said. “I thought they had a strong race, I think they learned a lot, and for both teams, we need to keep our heads up and keep working forward because there’s a lot of season left.”
The Shockers have two weekends off before they run their final regular-season race on Friday, Oct. 14 at the Bradley Pink Classic in Peoria, Illinois.