SEATTLE – Utah Valley University’s men’s cross-country team delivered in the school’s first attempt to capture a trophy in a new conference, winning the WAC Championships on Saturday in the Emerald City. The women came in fifth, while Idaho’s women won their fourth straight WAC crown on a cold,windy morning at Jefferson Park Golf Course.
“It was fun. The WAC did a great job and created a really good atmosphere,” said Utah Valley head coach Scott Houle, who was named the men’s Coach of the Year. “Our men really had a great race. They came out and took the responsibility of representing UVU well.”
Both the men and women had to overcome key injuries — Chuk Mitchell and Jessica Wilding were forced to withdraw after the race began, limiting the Wolverines’ chances.
Chris Brower and Jason Lynch, who came in fourth and fifth, respectively, led the men. Brower finished the 8K in 25:37.9, with Lynch in fifth (25:40.1), Josh Monsen in seventh (25:42.2) and Seth Gutzwiller in ninth (25:53.9).
Named to the All-Conference First Team were Brower, Lynch and Monsen with Gutzwiller, Chris Dorton and Trac Norris on the second team.
Three Idaho runners took the top three spots in the men’s race, led by Nicholas Boersma (25:26.7). Utah Valley had all five of its team-scorers finish in the top 13 though, helping the Wolverines to the title. Dorton (13th, 26:10.7) and Norris (14th, 26:14.1) rounded out the UVU runners.
“The depth is really what saved us," Houle said. "The guys stepping up and filling that void after Chuk had to pull out of the race shows the need for having a deeper team in a big race like this."
On the women’s side, Darian Sharp led the way for UVU in 11th with a 5K time of 18:41.5. Brooke Hodson-Davies finished 19th, crossing the finish line in 19:05.3. Idaho’s Hannah Kiser ran away with top spot in 17:15.7, with four of her teammates finishing in the top nine in the impressive win for the Vandals.
“Darian had a good race but overall this was probably one of the toughest performances the girls have gone through,” Houle said. “We’ll make some adjustments and get on track for regionals. Losing Jessica hurt. She’s a big element to our team and that really took a shot out of us.”
For Houle, it’s his 10th conference Coach of the Year award after winning nine in five years in the Great West Conference. It’s the men’s team’s fifth conference title — four in the GWC — and it’s only the first time that the women have not won a conference championship in their five years in an NCAA DI league.
UVU will now run for a shot at Nationals in the Mountain Region Championships on Nov. 15, in Ogden. The race will be held at Schneiter’s Riverside Golf Course in Riverdale, Utah, near Ogden.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.