SIOUX FALLS — South Dakota fourth-year junior Merga Gemeda and third-year sophomore Ella Byers have been named the TicketSmarter Summit League Cross Country Runners of the Week for the period ended Sept. 19.

The Coyotes have swept the league’s weekly awards twice this season after the program’s first two meets. Gemeda earns the honor for the fourth time in his career, while this marks Byers first career honor.

Gemeda, a native of Sioux City, Iowa, placed third at the Woody Greeno Invitational this past Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska. Gemeda found his way to the front of the field early in the race and stayed amongst the leaders for the 8,000-meter course. He completed the course in a career-best time of 24:23.7, just five seconds shy of the race winner. It was Gemeda’s second-straight top-three finish this fall, following a runner-up finish at the Augustana Twilight. This marks is second Summit weekly award of the season.

Byers, a product of Chamberlain, South Dakota, led a tight pack of Coyote women with a 19th-place finish at the Woody Greeno Invitational. She completed the 5,000-meter course in 18:11.9, dropping 44 seconds off her time from the season opener. Byers, a two-time South Dakota Class A Cross Country Champion in high school, competed at just a single meet in her true freshman season. Two years later, she’s establishing herself as one of the Coyotes’ top runners on the course. She was the third Coyote to cross the line two weeks ago before pacing USD this week. South Dakota’s women moved up to No. 14 in the Midwest as announced yesterday in the USTFCCCA regional rankings.

South Dakota returns to action at the Roy Griak Invitational held Friday morning at the Les Bolstad Course in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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