The Weber State University women’s and men’s cross-country teams took their talents to the Northwest as they battled against some of the best teams in the nation at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sept. 28.
Both teams entered the race with much to prove, as the women were ranked No. 4 in the latest Mountain Region rankings and the men were ranked No. 9. They once again faced off against in-state rival Brigham Young University, the University of Arizona and Adams State College, among others.
The WSU women entered the race once again without Amber Henry, their two-time All-American, but the youth of the team were once again allowed to show their talent. With one of the best recruiting classes in recent memory, they were once again led by a different freshman for the third-straight meet.
Hailey Ricks finished 43rd overall, crossing the line in a time of 21 minutes, 58 seconds on the 6K course. Summer Harper was right behind Ricks, as she finished 60th with a time of 22:15. Sophomore Jamie Stokes and freshmen Kelsey Braithwaite and Ellie Child rounded out the top five.
The Wildcats placed 16th overall, while the Wildcats of Arizona took home the title while placing four runners in the top 10. The individual winner was Shelby Houlihan from Arizona State University with a time of 20:36.
Coach Paul Pilkington said getting the younger runners into a bigger race will help them gain some confidence, and that it would be a time for them to see some runners and teams they will compete with later on in the season.
“We had a lot of freshmen running,” Pilkington said, “and they are used to running alone. They’re not used to running with so many people, but that’s why we run this race — to gain some experience.”
The men entered the race with confidence after their last race two weeks before, and once again they ran well. Junior Trevor Ricks, like his little sister, led the way for the Wildcats, placing 33rd overall in a time of 25:03 on the 8K course.
Tip Worob and Tyler Robinson once again gave Ricks support with places of 79th and 90th respectively. Freshmen Preston Johnson and Jacob Calvillo rounded out the top five as the Wildcats took 17th.
BYU runner Tylor Thatcher was the overall winner with a time of 24:26, beating out ASC’s Kevin Batt by a stride. Thatcher also led BYU to the team title with 62 points, as its top five runners all placed in the top 25.
Robinson had another solid performance, building on a full year of training with his teammates. He said the team is young but everyone seems to be improving.
“It went really well,” Robinson said. “Our team made a good improvement from the weeks before. I learned a lot from running in bigger races with fast people. I also learned that I am in better shape than I was last year. I can run longer and harder than I think.”
Sickness had affected the team; WSU was only able to have five healthy runners for the meet. Pilkington said that even the older runners gained experience from the race and environment.
“We had some guys sick, so we only ran five guys,” he said. “Again, this race really helps with experience, and we got that today.”