A week after winning the Big Sky Conference title, Weber State University cross country Head Coach Paul Pilkington was named the Big Sky Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year.
|This is Pilkington’s first Coach of the Year honor. Pilkington is in his fifth season as head coach of the Wildcats. He said he was happy to receive the honor.“It feels great,” Pilkington said. “The coaches vote on that and most of the time, it goes to the coach whose team wins. I’m pleased to look at the combined men’s and women’s; we had the highest finish in the conference with a first (in the women’s race) and a second (in the men’s race).”Pilkington led the Wildcats to their fifth Big Sky cross country title last weekend in Pocatello, Idaho. It was WSU’s first title since 2006. The Wildcats scored 40 points in the meet to finish 10 points ahead of second-place Idaho State University. The last time WSU won the title was in 2006.
In the Big Sky Conference championship race, Pilkington said he was pleased with the team’s performance, and he has enjoyed his time as a head coach.
“The women ran a great race and really executed our plan throughout the race,” Pilkington said. “Amber got off to a great start and ran a great race, and the others also competed well as a team.”
Pilkington said he’s been pleased with the team’s performance for the entire year. He said he was glad the team lived up to its preseason ranking as the top team in the conference.
“They’ve raced well every race,” Pilkington said. “The women have been solid. We’ve had no letdowns. It’s nice to be the favorite, which we were, but it’s nice to come through and deliver. The girls expected to win it, and they delivered on it. It was fun to watch as a coach.”
WSU sophomore Amber Henry won the Big Sky individual title with a time of 17:30.50, which was the third individual title for the Wildcats and the first since 2007. Henry said she has enjoyed working with Pilkington and has learned a lot from him.
“It’s been so great,” Pilkington said. “He really knows his stuff, and I have full confidence in him and what he has us training for.”
Henry said she has learned a lot from Pilkington, and that a big part of the success of the team has been because of his coaching style and what he brings to the team.
“I’ve learned a lot of the background and chemistry behind running,” Henry said. “We had this camp before we started the season, and he goes over all his training stuff and why it works.”
Henry said one of her favorite things about Pilkington is how he has taken an interest in his runners’ lives and has been a friend to the runners.
“He’s just a really good guy,” Henry said, “really caring. He cares about each of us very much.”
Pilkington will lead the Wildcats to the NCAA Mountain Region Championships Nov. 12 in Provo, Utah. He said the championship will challenge the team, since the top teams in the mountain region, which is comprised of all the teams above 3,000 feet in elevation, will be competing.
“They only take two to the NCAA championships automatically,” Pilkington said, “and the top two teams are Colorado, which are ranked third (in the nation), and New Mexico, who is in the top 20 also.”