This wasn’t just any ordinary cross country meet. 5,000 participants and spectators gathered, hundreds of flashing glow sticks lined the course, a DJ blasted music across 10 soccer fields and the moon beamed in the sky. This was the 9th annual Augustana Twilight Invitational.
The University of Sioux Falls Women and Men Cross Country teams started their seasons here in Sioux Falls at the Yankton Trail Park, hosted by Augustana. The women competed against 25 teams while the men competed against 26 teams at the Friday, September 6, 2019 Twilight Meet. After the high school races ran from 6-8 p.m., the college women started at 8:30 p.m. with men at 9 p.m.
Even though the meet is hosted by Augustana, the Coo make their presence known in their territory. You can hear the Cougar’s chants and see the USF flags proudly waved in the air at nearly every turn on the course. “In all honesty, it might be titled Augie Twilight meet, but we take it as our own home meet and somewhere we can really explode,” said Junior USF runner, Logan Hansen.
The men’s team is currently ranked 7th in the nation in Division 2 with Mason Phillips, 2-time All American, being named NSIC Pre-Season Men’s Athlete of the Year. The expectations are high after winning the program’s first NSIC Championship just a year ago. Head Coach, Doug Peterson, talked about his defending championship squad and what this meet will show. “We’re ranked high in the nation and this is a great stepping stone to see where it takes us the rest of the year.”
The Women’s XC team welcomes back a veteran crew with junior Taryn Ceglowski and senior Montana Belford returning. The team finished last year with a program-best 4th in the conference. The Cougars have a lot of familiar faces coming back including Anabelle Schulz, a junior, with some goals of her own, “My goals for the year are just to stay strong and healthy, run with your team, and creating a bond that glorifies God all the time.”
Both women and men came out strong and ready to give it their all at the Twilight Meet. Women got off with a good start with Montana Belford placing 31st with a time of 18:54.70 in the 5k. The team placed 9th with freshman Annika Aho and Karlee Simons finishing 51st and 55th. The men’s team placed 4th behind Nebraska, Augustana, and Cloud County Community College. Mason Phillips finished 2nd at a time of 18:55.89. While senior teammates Steven Brown and Billy Beseman finished 6th and 25th.
Congrats to the runners on a great meet and good luck for the rest of the season! Go Coo!