CEDAR CITY, Utah - Oct. 30 - The Thunderbirds will conclude the regular cross country season this weekend at the program’s second championship in the Big Sky Conference. The Montana State-hosted championship will take place on Saturday at the Bridger Creek Golf Course in Bozeman, with the women competing in a three-mile race at 10 a.m., followed by the men’s five-mile race at 11 a.m. (MDT).
“On the men’s side, we are looking to run with Northern Arizona and see if we can get into the top three again,” head coach Eric Houle said. “It would be a compliment to the program to go into a brand new conference and break into the top three for the second year in a row.”
Ranked second in the pre-season coaches’ poll, Southern Utah’s men earned a No. 30 Division I ranking with top-ten finishes at large meets like the Notre Dame Invitational and the NCAA Pre-Nationals. Senior Ryan Barrus led the Thunderbirds with a 25th-place individual finish at Pre-Nats and will return to the Big Sky field after a sixth-place individual finish at the 2012 championship. Mike Tate, Hayden Hawks, Dylan Marx, and Anthony Brown will also be among the T-Birds looking to score for Southern Utah.
Southern Utah’s women enter the conference championship with a fairly young team, with freshmen Morgan Vorwaller, Sierra Malm and Rachel Stone all travelling to Bozeman. Senior Shelli Mogensen returns to lead the women after an 11th-place individual finish in 2012, alongside Dayna VanArsdol, Ashley Hawks, Kaylee Boyer and Josie Brandow.
“We’re healthy and everybody has been improving throughout the season,” Houle said regarding the women’s squad. “I think going in with a brand new, young women’s team and dealing with that kind of pressure will be a great experience for our new athletes.”
Following the Big Sky Championship, SUU Cross Country will have another two-week break from competition to prepare for the NCAA Mountain Regionals, set to take place Nov. 15 in Ogden, Utah.