POCATELLO, Idaho/FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Sep. 1 - Southern Utah Cross Country opened the season with victories at the Idaho State Invitational on Friday as both squads defeated the Bengals, with the men recording a perfect finish. The Thunderbirds also raced at Northern Arizona's George Kyte Invitational, with the women taking another victory and the men finishing second on the course that will host the 2012 Big Sky Championship.
"It has really been a great season opener for us and a great set of accomplishments for both squads," head coach Eric Houle said. "The women have gotten off to a great start and the men are looking even stronger than last year."
The women's squad recorded a winning score of 24 in NAU's 5k, finishing ahead of NAU, Arizona and Arizona State with five T-Birds in the top seven and recording a gap of about 32 seconds between the first and fifth runner. Sylvia Bedford was the first across the finish line, placing second with a time of 16:59.3. She was followed by Jamie Smith (17:12.4), Danielle Jewkes (17:20.4), Kirsten Bradford (17:23.1) and Shelli Mogensen (17:31.6), who finished consecutively in fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh places rescpectively.
National qualifier Nate Jewkes led the men's squad at NAU, finishing second behind NAU's Brian Shrader with an 8k time of 25:23.2. Ryan Barrus followed in sixth place with a 25:35.2 finish, with a 13th-place time of 25:54.2 recorded by Anthony Brown. Josh Gardner (26:47.8) and Devan Antczak (26:52.6) came next with 19th- and 21st-place respective finishes. The team's combined efforts resulted in a second-place score of 54 behind NAU's score of 20 and ahead of Arizona State (66) and Arizona (108).
A second group of SUU men raced in a 6k at ISU, recording a perfect score of 15 to ISU's 47 as five Thunderbirds made up the top five. Clinton Rhoton was the first across the finish line, recording a time of 18:53.17. He was followed by Elijah Rono (18:53.34) and Nigel Sharp (19:06.80) in second and third, with John Hart (19:13.20) and Jon Lee (19:21.50) rounding out the score in fourth and fifth place respectively. Rhoton, Rono, Sharp and Hart also broke into Southern Utah's records at ISU with their performances.
The women's squad at ISU recorded a score of 25 to ISU's 30 with Lizzy Butler leading the T-Birds with a first-place finish in the 3k and time of 10:45.90. She was followed by Whitney Curtis in third and Kaylee Coates with respective times of 10:58.10 and 11:11.90. Aubrey Bryson (11:19.10) and Dayna VanArsdol (11:22.30) were the final scoring runners, placing seventh and ninth respectively.
The Thunderbirds will continue the cross country season in two weeks when the team travels to Riverside, Calif., for the UC Riverside Invitational on Sept. 15.