Courtesy: Kelsey Lee
Clay's runners to looking to surprise Big Sky foes
Courtesy: Rachel Whipple, UND Media Relations
Release: 10/26/2017
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- After its home meet and a week off, the University of North Dakota cross country team is gearing up for the Big Sky Conference meet this Saturday hosted by Weber State.

UND’s participants will include Kendra Franck, Lydia Kantonen, Janessa Meuleners, Megan Olson, Hannah Oscarson, Ellyssa Peterson, Sydney Raboin and Amanda Robbins on the women’s side.

Competing for the men will be Matt Bakken, Cataldo DiDonna, Jacob Henne, Scott Kvidera, Matt Russell, Noah Schiller, Kyle Sweeney and Taron Townsend.

“This group has a level of confidence,” said head coach Dick Clay. “They have run better as a pack than almost any other year.”

Leading that pack for the UND men has been senior Cataldo DiDonna. DiDonna highlighted the home meet with a personal best-performance. He beat his previous time by almost a minute.

“Cataldo has the ability to be in the top 25-30,” said Clay. “He’s ready for it.”

As for the rest of the men’s team, Clay hopes to see improvement across the board.

“If everyone moves up a little bit it will keep the pack moving up,” said Clay. “If your number one and two runners move, so will your number three, four and five.”

Hannah Oscarson and Ellyssa Peterson are expected to lead the women’s side after the red-shirting of Erica Eades and Madison Overby earlier this season.

“The women are a lot closer in terms of time,” said Clay. “We are solid through the top five, so it is now about running the best race you can.”

As far as preparation goes, Clay is reminding his team to stay calm and focused.

“We have to treat it like any other meet, even though it is the conference meet,” said Clay. “Everyone is healthy and as long as they run the best race they can we cannot ask for much more than that.”

North Dakota will be facing tough competition that includes nationally-ranked Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. Northern Arizona is ranked first, while Southern Utah is ranked 12th.

“I think we will be able to surprise some people based on our rankings,” said Clay. “If we can replicate the home meet this will be a really good meet for us.”

“Overall this team has shown so much improvement,” said Clay. “I am proud of how far they have come from the beginning of the season.”

The Big Sky Conference meet will begin with the women’s 5k at 12 p.m. CT, followed by the men’s 8k at 12:45 p.m.

The races will be streamed over Facebook live. To watch the action visit


North Dakota Cross Country

17 All-Americans, 5 conference titles
12 NCAA appearances, 6 top-5 finishes
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