TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Oct. 19 – Thunderbird Cross Country had a big day at the NCAA Pre-Nationals as the men’s squad raced to a tenth-place team finish in a field of 52 teams. The T-Birds raced among several nationally-ranked teams in the men’s Blue Race, finishing just after No. 1 Oklahoma State (7th) and No. 19 Boise State (8th), and finishing ahead of No. 12 Indiana (21st).
“This is probably one of our best performances we’ve ever had,” head coach Eric Houle commented after the race. “In previous years, when the field included about 25 teams, I would hope for at least a top-20 finish. Now they’ve doubled the size of the field and we finished 10th.”
Ryan Barrus once again finished first for Southern Utah, recording a 25th-place time of 23:57.54 in the 8k. Barrus’ time marks a new all-time best for Southern Utah on the Pre-Nationals course, beating out Mark Currell’s 2007 time of 24:14.0.
Mike Tate scored next for the Thunderbirds, racing to a 59th-place time of 24:17.17 with Hayden Hawks following in 71st place with a 24:24.61 finish. Dylan Marx and Anthony Brown tallied the rest of the men’s points with respective times of 24:28.00 (79th) and 25:08.35 (190th). Tate, Hawks, Marx and Brown also broke into Southern Utah’s course records for Pre-Nationals, ranking fourth, sixth, seventh and 10th respectively, and the squad’s combined efforts resulted in a score of 425.
“For Southern Utah to go in and produce that kind of showing is exactly what we hope for,” Houle added. “It really speaks volumes of both the conditioning and the confidence these guys possess.”
Southern Utah’s women spent the weekend racing at Santa Clara’s Bronco Invitational, and now both squads will return home to prepare for the Big Sky Conference Championship, which will take place Nov. 2 in Bozeman, Mont.