2021 Cross Country Season Preview Posted on September 3rd, 2021 by

2021 Gustavus cross country (photo courtesy of SPX Sports)

SAINT PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus men’s and women’s cross country teams are set to compete in their first race since 2019 this Saturday at the Crown College Invitational in St. Bonifacius, Minn. The men’s 6k race begins at 11 a.m. with the women’s 5k set to start at 11:45 a.m. Other teams competing include Crown, Northland, UW-River Falls, UM-Morris, North Central, and St. Catherine.

Head Coach Brenden Huber, who is in his fifth season leading the men’s and women’s programs, has high expectations for both squads after not being able to compete in 2020.

“We’ve been grooming this team to make a run at the national meet,” Huber said of the women’s squad. “That focus has always been there and the work ethic is definitely there.”

Lily Engebretson (Sr., White Bear Lake), Mackinzee Miest (Sr., St. James), and Julia Severson (Jr., St. Cloud) will be looked upon as leaders for the women. As sophomores in 2019, Miest and Engebretson ran well at the NCAA Central Region meet, taking 56th and 66th place, respectively. Miest took 28th at the MIAC Championships with Engebretson close behind in 39th.

“Those three ladies finished up their spring track season on the distance side and showed they have the potential to be in the top 10 at the conference meet this year,” Huber said.

Illiana Ramon (Sr., Fairmont) also brings back experience on the varsity squad, taking 24th at the 2019 MIAC Championships for All-Conference honorable mention and then placing 38th at the regional meet. Elizabeth Donnelly (Sr., Langley, Wash.) had a strong spring track season and hopes to roll that success into the fall cross country season. And Evelyn Villalobos (So., Crystal) has made a smooth transition from the women’s soccer team to cross country.

“We have the right pieces and we just have to work on staying on the path and have it all come together at the right time,” Huber said. “We feel that we have a really strong women’s team this year.”

The men’s squad brings back a wealth of experience and is poised to make a statement at both the conference and regional races.

“This is probably the most experienced and deep team in my 15 years here,” Huber said of the men’s team. “They are feeding off each other. There’s just an amazing energy with this group and how far can they take it?”

Andrew Stumbo (Sr., Boone, Iowa) and Garet Grant (Sr., Winona) are the leading returners after both racing in the 2019 NCAA Championships. Grant took 78th at the national meet and Stumbo placed 144th. Both Stumbo and Grant also earned All-Region and All-Conference honors last season.

Casey Olson (Sr., Harmony), Henry Hinchcliffe (Jr., Austin), Tucker Wallin (Jr., Red Wing), Noah Johnson (Sr., Stillwater), Jack DeGonda (Sr., Stillwater), Lucas Schnirring (Sr., Eden Prairie), and Matt Payne (Sr., Stillwater) are also expected to make an impact for the Gusties this season.

“There’s just a really good team energy where they are one unit, they really trust each other,” Huber said. “They are working together to get to the top. And we’ve had that in the past, but not with this much strength.”



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