Men’s and Women’s Cross Country

Dash to a Strong Season-Opener

Tanner Frost, Sports Editor

Despite COVID-19 postponing many of the BVU Athletics seasons for the Fall, the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country squads raced on the hills of Storm Lake in their season-opener, Saturday, September 26th. 

With practices being regulated by COVID-19 specific guidelines and two weeks taken off of the season in early September due to rising cases at BVU, it’s been a tumultuous year thus far. 

However, Buena Vista and Head Coach Colt Slack consider themselves fortunate to be able to still compete. 

COVID has impacted our practices, workouts, schedules, and everything in between. But we can only control the cards we have been dealt,” says Slack. 

Alongside the rest of the Athletics department optimism of the continuation of many postponed seasons remain high, and the Cross Country squads are working hard with the opportunity presented to them. 

Losing three races from a “traditional” year and having the early season NWU Triangular in Lincoln, Nebraska canceled, Slack and his pair of teams hosted their own three-squad American Rivers run against Luther and Central this Saturday, September 26th in Storm Lake. 

“The meet this weekend had some highlights, certainly, but overall we weren’t satisfied with our results. We know that we have a lot more to offer ourselves and our competition,” says Slack.  

Facing off with long-time rivals in the Norse and Dutch, the Beaver men finished third out of the three teams while the Women did the same. 

Despite the stiff competition, individual BV runners shone through including Sophomore Qiana Roderick and Junior Greg Tystahl. 

Cruising past the finish line with a final time of 24:16.5, Roderick earned herself fourth-place while Wren Klump was the second Beaver to cross the final line in 23rd overall. 

“Qiana did have a great race this weekend and was just off a lifetime best by less than a second. For being early in the season that is a great place to be,” says Slack. “She is training hard and she is focused on dropping her time even lower.” 

Roderick herself was also proud of her performance, showing promising signs for the shortened season. 

“I made it my goal to stay with the lead pack and I feel I did a pretty good job of sticking up there. I just tried to race with confidence and give 100% effort. While my finish could’ve been stronger I felt relaxed and strong for most of the race,” adds Roderick. 

Meanwhile, Tystahl led the way for the Buena Vista Men with a final time of 28:26.3 across the 8k trek for a team-high 19th place. 

“Overall, [Greg] gave some great effort but he can definitely compete at a higher level. We need to improve upon our consistency in practice and meets. We will be back to the grind this week and hope for a better result at our next outing,” says Slack. 

Specific rules were also put in place for the Beavers and all visitors due to the challenges to team Athletics COVID-19 has presented. 

You can read the official 2020 Cross Country Event Protocol list by clicking here.  

Some notable changes include increasing the width of the finishing line/area to make it as wide as possible, separating team camps in marked off areas, and requiring masks/face covering at all times before and after the race. 

Needless to say, the mass changes in protocol applied to competition has had the same impact on team practices. 

“We are practicing in smaller groups and running with social distance/mask guidelines. A unique challenge is keeping everyone on the same page between being on campus and off-campus with quarantine and isolation. Overall, we are making things work and I give a lot of credit to the team for staying level headed to the best of their abilities,” says Slack. 

Roderick adds, “We do have a lot of rules to follow such as having a mask on at all times except when we are running and we have to be social distancing at all times and run in small groups.” 

As the BVU Cross Country team remains committed to the safety of themselves and their peers across campus, two more triangular lie ahead before the last dance of the season. 

On Saturday, October 10, the Beavers will be back on the course traveling East to Dubuque in a triangle including themselves, the hosting Spartans, and Coe. 

Afterward, another two weeks leading into the Wartburg Triangular with the Duhawks and the Knights completing a half-season’s effort of treks across Iowa. 

As Roderick sets her sights on a personal best time in the 23-minute range, the rest of her two teams share the same ambition as Coach Slack when it comes to giving their all each day, whether it’s in practice or a race. 

“As far as practices are concerned we want to see a positive trend in workouts. We have to learn to rely on pack running more effectively and push when it hurts. We must respond when a teammate or competitor passes. These are all aspects of having a complete race,” says Slack.