SIOUX FALLS — South Dakota’s Charlie Babcock, Merga Gemeda, Abrielle Jirele and Abby Ripperda were named Summit League Runners to Watch by the league’s head coaches as announced by the Summit office Tuesday.
The Coyotes, who opted out of the spring 2021 Summit League Cross Country Championships, were picked to finish third in the men’s and women’s preseason polls.
Ripperda, a fifth-year junior from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, garnered all-Midwest Region honors during the 2019 season. She placed fourth at the Summit League Championships that season to earn first-team all-league honors. She clocked 16:45.5 for 5,000 meters at the 2019 Chile Pepper Festival, the second-fastest 5,000-meter time in Summit League history. During the course of the 2019 season, she won the Augustana Twilight and Bradley Pink Classic and finished in the top-10 at all seven meets. Ripperda, who graduated from USD with a bachelor’s in medical biology, begins with USD’s physical therapy program this fall.
Gemeda, a fourth-year junior from Sioux City, Iowa, earned all-Summit League second-team honors during both his freshman and sophomore cross country seasons. He clocked 25:12.9 for eighth place at the 2019 Summit League Championships. He led the Coyotes in five of seven meets during the 2019 fall season. Gemeda is majoring in sport marketing and media.
Babcock, a third-year sophomore from Forest Lake, Minnesota, placed 22nd at the 2019 Summit League Cross Country Championships as a true freshman. He finished in USD’s top-seven for each race during his freshman campaign. He posted a collegiate-best 25:43.3 for 8,000 meters at the Bradley Pink Classic. Babcock is majoring in medical biology.
Jirele, a second-year freshman from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, makes her cross country debut this fall. She scored for the Coyotes in five different events between the indoor and outdoor Summit League Track and Field Championships. She clocked a prep-best time of 18:55.6 for 5,000 meters at the 2019 Nike Heartland Regional in Sioux Falls. Jirele is majoring in communication sciences and disorders.
South Dakota returns to action this fall with the Augustana Twilight at 8:30 p.m. Friday night.