The Weber State University women’s cross-country team returned home last weekend as Big Sky Conference champions for the second year in a row. The WSU men’s team finished in second place for the conference championships, also for the second-straight season.
WSU’s cross-country teams recently competed in Flagstaff, Ariz., with the rest of the teams in the conference. The women’s team, which held a national ranking of 16th at the time, barely grabbed the first-place win in front of Southern Utah University, and the men’s team finished in second place behind Northern Arizona University, which won the meet for the sixth year in a row. The men’s team was followed closely by SUU, which took third.
“I think we can say the conference championships were a success,” said men’s team sophomore runner Trevor Ricks. “Both the women and the men did what we intended to do. We felt good about the team effort.”
WSU junior and women’s team runner Amber Henry won the meet for the women, earning the title of Big Sky Champion for the second year in a row. Henry posted a time of 16:59.7 for the 5-kilometer course.
The top three runners for the women’s event came from WSU. Senior runner Sarah Callister finished in a very close second place with a time of 17:02.1. Senior Taylor Thornley finished closely behind Henry and Callister to take thirdplace with a time of 17:06.9.
“It felt good,” Henry said. “My teammate, Sarah, did very well. It’s exciting because we were both very good and it was really close, so we’re both going to do really well a little farther down the road. It was just exciting, and I think we did well. We got another championship, and that’s great to have them back to back … but I think it kind of opened our eyes that we need to finish even better. It gave us a few little things to focus in on.”
The men’s team was led by senior John Coyle, who posted a time of 24:59.0 on the 8-kilometer course. Coyle finished in fifth place overall. Junior Mike Hardy finished in eighth place with a time of 25:23.6, and junior Jason Nance finished in ninth place, posting a time of 25:32.7.
Although the Wildcats are celebrating, Henry said their desire to be the best will continue to take over.
“We’re never, ever satisfied,” she said. “I think that’s what makes us good. We’re always looking to improve. We’re definitely happy with our successes and what we did accomplish, but I think a few of us are a little hungry for more … we know where to improve and how to be tougher mentally. We’re happy, but we’re ready to go again.”
Henry said the Wildcats’ current period of restoration is very important if they want an advantage over a possibly less-prepared team.
“At this point in the season,” she said, “the most important thing is to fully recover, take care of ourselves and do all of the little things to make sure we’re healthy, because we’ve put in all the work the past few months. We kind of already are what we’re going to be, but we’ve just got to keep up and stay healthy when other people may slip up and break down.”
The WSU cross-country teams will now prepare to compete in the NCAA Mountain Regionals in Fort Collins, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 9. The event will be followed a week later by the possibility of the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday, Nov. 17.