Mountain Region Championships Next Up for SUU XC
CEDAR CITY, Utah - Championship Season will continue for the Thunderbirds this Friday, as both the men’s and women’s cross country teams will head to Logan to compete in the NCAA Mountain Region Championships hosted by Utah State.
Last Time Out
Both the men’s and women’s teams are coming off big performances at the Big Sky Championships.
The men’s team finished second in the field behind only No. 1 Northern Arizona. The Thunderbirds had three All-Conference performers at the meet, with Matt Wright (8th; 24:39), Josh Collins (9th; 24:44) and freshman Aidan Reed (10th; 24:53) all earning the honor.
Despite being picked ninth in the preseason Big Sky poll, the women’s team rose to the occasion and finished third in Moscow, Idaho. The women’s team was led by Josie Riggs, who earned All-Conference honors with a fifth place finish in a time of 17:43.
The No. 24 Thunderbirds will be looking to secure their spot in the National Championship this weekend, as they are seeking their third straight trip to the meet as a team.
The top two teams in each Regional Championship this weekend will receive an automatic bid to the National Championship, with 13 at-large bids available for the remaining teams.
SUU head coach Eric Houle said that looking at the projections is a good indicator, but really anything can happen in big meets like this.
“There was a number of years back where we were projected to get sixth, and I went in hoping we could just get that, and we won the thing,” he said. “So I think from seven all the way up, I hope we’re in one of those spots.”
The Mountain Region features the top three teams in the country, with No. 1 NAU, No. 2 Colorado and No. 3 BYU all set to run in Logan this weekend. No. 15 UTEP and No. 19 Colorado State will also be featured players at the meet, with No. 24 SUU sitting sixth in the regional rankings.
Reed said there will be a lot of strategy involved with this race in Logan, compared to a race like the Big Sky Championships.
“I think the most notable difference is that it’s a step up in distance at Regionals, it’s a 10K, so there’s an additional 2K,” he said. “So the best teams, like Colorado and NAU, tend to surge as a pack over the last two kilometers so it will be really important for us to be on the right side of that break when the break finally comes.”
The women’s team will head to Logan ranked No. 11 in the Mountain Region. As a unit, they will be looking to continue to improve on what has been a strong year for the group as a whole. A group that is very young as well, only featuring one senior that competes regularly.
Sharlie Dimick said the team is set for the challenge the Mountain Region will present, and is hoping that they can end the season on a positive note if they are not able to carry on into the National Championship.
“We’re ready,” she said. “We still got third at conference without all of us having our best race, so I think we're all ready to have our best race this weekend and push each other.”
Coach Houle said there has been a lot of factors that have led to the women’s team having more success this season than last year. He said that the combination of the summer training with the attitude the girls have brought to the team has led to a lot of success on the course for the T-Birds this season.
The women’s regional will also feature the No. 1 team in the country, with the Colorado Buffalos carrying that title into Logan.
Men’s Team: No. 24 in the USTFCCCA Coaches’ Poll
Men’s Team: No. 6 in the Mountain Region
Women’s Team: No. 11 in the Mountain Region
2016 All-Conference Performers
Matt Wright (8th @ Big Sky Championships)
Josh Collins (9th @ Big Sky Championships)
Aidan Reed (10th @ Big Sky Championships)
Josie Riggs (5th @ Big Sky Championships
Athletes of the Week
Big Sky Conference Athletes of the Week:
Week 1: Kasey Knevelbaard (1st @ Sagebrush Invitational)
Week 3: Kasey Knevelbaard (9th @ Roy Griak)
Week 4: Kasey Knevelbaard (12th @ Notre Dame)
Utah State University is the host of the NCAA Mountain Regionals this season. A link to their website with more information on the Championship event can be followed here: http://www.utahstateaggies.com/sports/c-xc/spec-rel/ncaa-16.html.
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