UMW harriers stride on

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The rubber met the road for the University of Montana cross country teams last weekend.

The Bulldog men and women took a long road trip to Havre for the Frontier Preview meet, which offered a good reality check for runners competing for the first time in six months.

“We all had such a long layoff, it was a little shock to the system,” said UMW Cross Country Head Coach Dylan Zitzer of his runners, whose spring season got shortened and fall season start got delayed by the pandemic.

“We all had a long layoff, and getting going again wasn’t as easy as some wanted it to be. That said, I’m still happy with the kids we have. They’ve been working a lot harder than their results in Havre showed.”

The redoubtable Eireann O’Connor fared about as well as always in Havre, where the returning All-American posted a 19:10:70 on the 5k course. O’Connor’s efforts on the Hi-Line led her Western women to a second-place finish aided by ninth-place Marley May’s 20:13:30.

Matt Wilson took ninth for UMW on the men’s 8k course with a 27:55:20.

“We all still have a lot of work to do,” said Zitzer, who for this season has been forced to inspire his runners train in a variety of difficult conditions, including snow, rain and smoky skies from forest fires.

“But we have been having such good practices,” said Zitzer, who guided the UMW women’s team to its first NAIA national meet last season, “I know our group will get better results soon.”

Next up for Bulldog cross country, a little time off before heading to Helena for the Frontier Conference Rumble on Sept. 24.