The Weber State University men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled south to Cedar City on Saturday for the Big Sky Conference Championships.
On the way back north, the teams brought back a title and a third place finish.
“They ran fantastically,” WSU head coach Paul Pilkington said. “They did a real nice job. I was happy with both teams today.”
For the women’s team, the title was their fourth in the last five years. Junior Ellie Child led the Wildcats with a second-place finish behind University of Montana freshman Makena Morley.
Child’s time of 17:55.9 was just 10 seconds short of Morley’s winning mark.
“My goal was to win conference, but (Morley) absolutely killed it. She ran so well,” Child said. “But I was incredibly happy with my second place finish.”
Child was one of three Wildcats to finish in the top 10 on Saturday. Junior Hailey Whetten and senior Jamie Stokes finished in fourth and seventh place respectively with times of 18:08.1 and 18:21.8.
“We knew going into it that it was going to be a really hard course and we’d have to bring it and run really tough to win,” Child said. “But we were able to pull it out and everybody ran great.”
The Wildcats also had three more runners finish in the top 20 on Saturday. Sophomore Paige Dilmore finished in 11th place, with a time of 18:40.8, just two seconds behind 10th place finisher Amanda Bowman from Portland State University.
Freshman MarLee Mitchell and sophomore Alice Keller finished in 15th and 17th place respectively, with times of 18:54.6 and 18:59.0.
Junior Jason Kearns was the top finisher for the men’s team with a time of 25:38.7. He finished 42 seconds behind Big Sky Champion Hayden Hawks, placing fifth among the men.
“For me it was definitely one of my better races of the year,” Kearns said. “I was very happy with it to finish fifth overall. It was a very good accomplishment for me.”
Freshman Nic Demler finished in 16th place with a time of 26:28.6, while sophomore Cody Glad was the only other Wildcat to finish in the top 25, as his time of 26:44.4 placed him 22nd.
“We ran great as a team,” Kearns said. “It was awesome to see people like Nic Demler step up and become our No. 2 runner.”
The WSU men’s team finished in third place for the second season in a row. Saturday also marked the eighth time in the last 10 years that the men’s team finished in the top three at the Big Sky Conference Championships.
The Wildcats will run next at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships on Nov. 13 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“We ran the course last year,” Child said. “I really liked the course so I can’t wait to run it.”
The NCAA Championships will take place in Louisville, Kentucky on Nov. 21.
Pilkington said that he thinks the women’s team has a very good chance of making it to the NCAA Championships this year.
“If we run like we did today, we’ll be in great shape,” Pilkington said. “We just need to go race like we did today and we have a very good chance of qualifying for the national championships.”