UVU cross-country: McCabe qualifies for Nationals; Nielson on bubble
FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- For the second time in his career, Utah Valley University's Joshua McCabe has qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships after finishing 11th overall with the time 30:21.4 at the NCAA Mountain Regional on Friday afternoon.
UVU's Cliff Nielson finished 16th overall (30:31.9), just one spot out of automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships. He is being considered for one of eight at-large bids. He will find out Saturday morning if he was selected.
Both the UVU men's and women's teams placed in the Top 10 with the men finishing seventh and the women ninth. The finishes were the highest for UVU at the NCAA Mountain Regionals in the five years the Wolverines have competed in it.
"Both teams finished five places higher than they were projected to finish," UVU cross-country coach Scott Houle said.
The men tallied 235 points, while the women tallied 230 points.
When McCabe qualified for nationals in 2010, he placed 17th overall in Salt Lake City and was the fourth overall individual qualifier.
"Josh and Cliff were with the top pack. They were aggressive and were in the Top 10-20 the entire race," Houle said. "When they group moved, they moved. They didn't care who they were racing against."
Houle said McCabe broke away with the main pack with about 2,000 meters to go, while Nielson also made a move, but was narrowly missed the final automatic qualifying spot.
For the women, freshman Darian Sharp (21:24.5) led the Wolverines with a 30th-place finish. The team finished less than a minute apart.
"It's impressive for someone to come in and do that," Houle said of Sharp's race. "To know that there are still a few more years left in the tank will make it interesting to see where (her career) goes."
Behind Sharp, Krystal Harper finished 43rd (21:42.6); Angela Blackham 44th (21:43.1); Stephanie Christensen 52nd (21:52.4) and Ivie Gonsalves 61st (22:09.7).
"The 45-second gap was what this team needed to be successful," Houle said. "They have been good all year in running as a group."
Although they didn't figure into the scoring, Bridget Hazel finished 77th (22:34.6) and Ally Deeter placed 97th (23:09.9).
Behind McCabe and Nielson, Mike Felix placed 50th (31:42.1); Trevor Sharp 68th (32:11.3) and Trevor Baker 90th (33:02.0). Macy Butterfield (33:06.4) and Chris Dorton (33:28.6), who didn't figure in the scoring placed, 132nd and 135th, respectively.
Texas Tech's Kennedy Kithuka won the men's 10K race with the time of (29:36.8), while UTEP's Risper Kimaiyo (20:10.8) won the women's 6K.
Weber State won the women's event with 51 points and Northern Arizona won the men's event with 64 points.
The NCAA Championships will be contested in Louisville, Kent., on Nov. 17. At NCAA Pre-Nationals earlier this year, McCabe finished 97th with the time of 24:28.3.
Jay Hinton is a sports information assistant at Utah Valley University.
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