Ryan Talbot, for the Deseret Morning News
Seth Wold won the WAC cross country championship last week.

LOGAN — The night before the Western Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships, Utah State coach Gregg Gensel was asked to stand and introduce his seniors.

He stood but had no one to introduce — on the men's side at least.

That had to have been a scary thought for the rest of the teams in the WAC, seeing as the Aggie men's team had already won two straight conference titles.

Less than 24 hours later, the Aggies made it three in a row at the American West Heritage Center last Saturday.

"Our men's team is real young, and we have kids coming back from (LDS) missions and kids we're redshirting that will help this team next year," Gensel said. "I think the future looks very bright."

The Aggies' third title in three years in the WAC was only a few hours old before Seth Wold, who finished first, made it publicly known on the radio that the Aggies were gunning for a four-peat.

"I don't encourage them to say those kinds of things, but that's the whole spirit of the competition, and that's what I like about him," Gensel said. "He's very confident about what he's doing and that's how he trains. He can say those kinds of things if he would like to. Right now he can back it up, and he has the teammates to help him."

Wold, a junior from Lone Peak High who finished fifth in last year's WAC competition despite having mononucleosis, traversed the 8K course in 23:16.63 to win his first-ever individual crown.

"He did the best he could last year, and he got healthy and rested up at the end of the year and put in some great mileage this summer and fall," said Gensel, who has seven mens cross country conference titles (3 WAC, 4 Big West Conference) and two womens cross country titles (WAC, Big West).

"He's running like we figured he would. He runs well and is doing a great job."

Idaho was a distant second with 65 points, while Boise State had 83.

"This year was sweet because it was at home," Gensel said. "Last year it was sweet because we weren't the prohibitive favorite. We were just favored as one of the top teams."

Freshmen Stever Strickland (23:34.78), Chio Lopez (23:39.29) and Nick Bolinder (23:47.44) finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Utah State, which won with 21 points, had eight of its nine runners finish in the top 14.

Andrew Niccoli, Jason Holt and Hunter Nelson, the only member of the team that won't be back (LDS mission), finished 8th through 10th, while Jared Gelnn was 14th and Eric Larsen was 21st.

The women, who won the title last year, finished third (72) behind champion Idaho (39) and Nevada (65).

"They're coming along. They're battlers," Gensel said. "They had a goal to run their best and try to defend their title. Other teams ran better than them. I told them before (the meet) that we could run as good as we could possibly run and still lose."

Amy Egam (10th) and Stacie Lifferth (11th) were the Aggies' top two finishers with the times of 17:34.25 and 17:35.35, respectively, on the 5K course.

Caroline Berry was 16th, Allison Taylor 19th, Erin Stratton 22nd, Vanessa Hawkins 26th, April Rowlan 36th, and Alexix Meyer 42nd.

"They ran probably their best race of the year. They're disappointed they were third, but I told them I was proud of them for the way they ran," Gensel said. "It's not like they rolled over and played dead or ran bad and got beat. They ran good and got beat."

The two teams participate in the Mountain Regionals in Ogden — hosted by Weber State — on Nov. 10.

E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com