GRAND FORKS, N.D. – North Dakota senior Cataldo DiDonna earned a runner-up finish with the best 8K time of his collegiate career this afternoon, highlighting UND’s 15th annual Ron Pynn Classic Open at Ray Richards Course.
DiDonna, a native of Bismarck, N.D., completed the course in a team-leading 24 minutes, 42.7 seconds to shatter his previous personal best by nearly a full minute. That had occurred at UND’s home meet two years ago, when a sophomore DiDonna finished in 25:38. His effort today helped the Fighting Hawks split a pair of dual races, defeating South Dakota State (94-143) and falling to North Dakota State (94-35).
“The best team race we’ve had in a very long time for both teams,” said UND cross country coach Dick Clay. “Everyone ran, for the most part, personal bests by quite a bit. Good [weather] conditions, obviously – low wind and a good fast course. It was a good meet.”
North Dakota State’s Camron Roehl, running attached, won the men’s race by edging DiDonna with a time of 24:41.5. Former UND standout Nate Peterson, also running unattached, finished third with a time of 24:47.0. NDSU’s Elliott Stone (24:52.8) and Manitoba’s Abduselam Yussuf (24:53.7) rounded out the top five.
Clay hoped today’s performance will bode well for the Big Sky Conference Championship on Oct. 28.
“If our group of five can pack like they did today and Cataldo – if he can move up a little bit, he’s obviously running really strong – if that happens, that helps our score quite a bit,” said Clay.
In today’s women’s 5K race, NDSU dominated with the top four individual runners. Kelby Anderson crossed the line first for the Bison, clocking a time of 17:44.1. Teammates Annika Rotvold (17:54.4), Peyton Frolek (18:03.6) and Ashley Perez (18:05.9) finished 2-4 while SDSU’s Renae Dykstra (18:07.8) placed fifth.
UND, which is redshirting key sophomores Madison Overby and Erica Eades, was paced by freshman Ellyssa Peterson. The Nashwauk, Minn., product finished 11th with a time of 18:21.4. Sophomore Hannah Oscarson was not far behind, placing 13th with a time of 18:25.2.
“Both teams are ready to go [for the Big Sky meet],” said Clay. “I told them today, ‘Be happy, don’t be satisfied.’ It’s nice to have a great meet right now, but we have a couple of weeks to go before the conference and then two more weeks into the regional. We’ve still got some of the season left.”