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For as much success as the University of Mary women's country team has had, taking it for granted is something Dennis Newell tries to guard against.

Coming off a dominant performance at the Northern Sun conference meet 12 days ago, the Marauders are headed for Joplin, Mo., to run in the NCAA Division II Central Region race on Saturday. The Marauders have won four straight NSIC titles. If they win Saturday in the Show-Me State, it'll be four region titles, too.

"My hope would be that people recognize what these young women are doing," Newell said. "Whether it's four straight conference titles, four region championships in a row, back-to-back national runners-up, it's phenomenal what these kids have done. The amount of hard work, dedication, sacrifice, commitment it takes to sustain something like this, honestly, it's kind of off the charts."

Topping their performance Oct. 26 in Wayne, Neb. -- where the Marauders had seven of the top 16 placers in the race -- would be quite the feat. However, Newell said it might take just that.

"They all need to move up and run better than they did at the conference meet," Newell said. "They understand that's the way it has to be as you progress throughout this part of the season."

Ida Narbuvoll ran away from the field at the Northern Sun meet. In fact, the senior from Norway is unbeaten this season.

"What she's doing, winning races by a minute and sometimes more, you just don't see that at this level," Newell said.

Kayla Ogle (2nd), Starlynn Costa (5th), Taylor Hestekin (6th), Kiran Green (7th), Kate Fox (12th) and Lacey Feist (16th) each earned all-NSIC honors.

None would be considered blue-chip recruits, but Newell continues to unearth hidden gems.

"Maybe some of our kids don't have the track record of great high school performance athletes, but we're able to kids that love it. Who want to do well and are willing to be coached," Newell said. "We're not exactly text book in how we do things, but it all comes back to kids being open to what we're selling, and we've been fortunate to find a lot of really good human beings that want to excel."

Newell, and his staff, have been putting their team through the ringer this week in preparation for Saturday's meet, which also features the men's team in competition. Jesse Kaas and Dawson Strom turned in all-conference performances at the NSIC meet as the U-Mary men improved from seventh in 2018 to fourth this year.

"We make it uncomfortable and stressful at practice so when they get into the meet they know they can handle it," Newell said. "Training is the toughest part. When they get to the race, it can be a reward."

The tough week of workouts has been through unseasonably cold temperatures, but it has not slowed them down.

"Tuesday it was miserable. My toes were about frozen, but it was probably our best workout of the season," Newell said. "We're ready to roll."

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