RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Sept. 14 – Several of Southern Utah’s top cross country runners enjoyed their first competition of the season on Saturday morning as the squads raced at the UC Riverside Invitational. The T-Bird men finished second overall in a field of 23 teams, while the women finished fourth in a field of 16 teams.
“The men came out and performed the way we expected them to,” head coach Eric Houle said after the meet. “I was very pleased with the race today and, as they continue to improve, I expect them to be a very strong team for us this season.”
Ryan Barrus and Dylan Marx led the Thunderbirds at Riverside, finishing second and third in the men’s 8k with respective times of 24:04.8 and 24:13.7. Both times also broke into Southern Utah’s top records on the UCR course, with Barrus’ ranking second and Marx’s ranking fifth. Mike Tate finished next for the T-Birds, crossing the finish line in 25:06.3 and placing 21st. Hayden Hawks (25:08.9) and Jon Lee (25:33.3) then rounded out the men’s score with 23rd- and 37-place respective finishes.
The men’s combined efforts resulted in a score of 79, placing the team second behind UC Santa Barbara’s score of 54.
Shelli Mogensen led the T-Birds on the women’s side with an 18th-place finish in the 6k, recording a time of 21:34.0. Josie Brandow (21:40.4) and Dayna VanArsdol (21:40.5), followed with consecutive 22nd- and 23rd-place finishes while Sierra Malm came next with a 39th-place time of 22:28.4. Jasmyn Hildebrandt tallied the rest of the squad’s points with a 51st-place time of 22:42.4.
“We had a lot of our younger women really step up this weekend,” Houle continued. “They went in and did what we thought they should do and I see a lot of promise for the squad as we continue moving forward in the season.”
UC Santa Barbara took another team win on the women’s side with a combined score of 31, followed Nike Team Run LA with 51 points. The hosting Highlanders of UC Riverside placed third with 81 points, while the Thunderbird women followed in fourth with 147 points.
Southern Utah Cross Country will now prepare to host the program’s only home meet of the season, the annual Color Country Invitational, on Oct. 4 at the Cedar Ridge Golf Course. SUU will also send a small contingent of runners to compete at the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind., also set to take place on Oct. 4.