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Olson, Kantonen run for Fighting Hawks

Park Rapids' Megan Olson (3, shown running during last year's indoor track season) competed in six meets for the University of North Dakota women's cross-country team this fall. University of North Dakota athletics photo

Park Rapids' Megan Olson and Lydia Kantonen competed in the two biggest meets of the season for the University of North Dakota women's cross-country team this fall.

Kantonen capped off her freshman season as UND's No. 2 runner at the Big Sky Conference Championship and the No. 3 runner at the NCAA Division I West Regional Championship while Olson concluded her sophomore season as the Fighting Hawks' No. 7 runner at both meets.

At the Big Sky Conference meet at Ogden, Utah, on Oct. 28, Kantonen finished 46th overall with a 5K time of 18:43 while Olson clocked a 21:08 for 85th place overall as UND finished 12th with 295 points. Northern Arizona topped the 12-team field with 51 points while Montana State took runner-up honors with 83 points. Following were Idaho (95), Southern Utah (100), Weber State (131), Montana (133), Idaho State (142), Eastern Washington (218), Northern Colorado (264), Sacramento State (265) and Portland State (290). Paige Gilchrist of Northern Arizona led the 89-runner field with a winning time of 17:12.

"We had six runners who had never competed at the conference meet before. Everyone ran the best race they could and it's promising to see that moving forward," said UND head coach Dick Clay. "Overall as a team, we saw a lot of improvement from last year. We are getting closer to placing higher and we are going to use this meet as momentum for next year."

UND concluded the season by placing 33rd at the West Regional meet at Ames, Iowa on Nov. 10 with 894 points as Kantonen clocked a 6K time of 22:35 to finish No. 176 overall while Olson clocked a 24:22 to place No. 224 overall. Sophomore Hannah Oscarson (146th in 22:14) and freshman Ellyssa Peterson (154th in 22:18) led UND. Missouri's Karissa Schweizer led the 225-runner field with a winning time of 19:50 while Iowa State claimed the team title in the 33-team field with 90 points. Oklahoma State was second with 103 points while Minnesota took third with 119 points. South Dakota State University finished 15th with 405 points and North Dakota State was 17th with 428 points.

"For the freshmen running their first-ever 6K, they ran competitively and left everything out there. To see a sophomore and two freshmen in our top-three is promising," said Clay. "Overall, this meet was a good ending place for the season. It's also a great starting place for next season."

During the regular season, Olson competed in four meets for UND.

Olson was the Fighting Hawks' No. 8 runner with a 4K time of 16:55 to place 33rd out of 39 runners at the Bison Open at Fargo on Sept. 1. UND lost dual meets to SDSU (25-31) and to NDSU (15-43) in that season-opening double dual meet.

At the Bozeman (Montana) Invitational on Sept. 16, Olson was UND's No. 6 runner with a 5K time of 20:19 to place 57th overall out of 62 runners. The Fighting Hawks finished sixth as a team with 159 points. Montana State and Utah tied for first place in the six-team field with 42 points.

Olson was UND's No. 9 runner at the SDSU Classic at Brookings on Sept. 29 with a 5K time of 21:37. SDSU took first with 25 points, NDSU was second with 38 points and UND finished third with 67 points.

The Fighting Hawks closed out the regular season with a pair of duals at the Ron Pynn Classic at Grand Forks on Oct. 14. UND lost to NDSU 35-94 and defeated SDSU 94-143 as Olson finished 39th out of 48 runners as the team's No. 7 runner with a 5K time of 20:11. Kantonen made her season debut in that meet and finished 16th overall running unattached with a time of 18:36.