Utah Valley senior Tyson Lambert became the first Utah Valley men's cross-country athlete to finish the regular season undefeated with his fourth victory of the year Saturday at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational.
Lambert concluded the final regular season meet of his career with a program course record of 23:39.7 to beat out 156 runners in the men's 8K invitational race. The fourth-year senior follows in the footsteps of former UVU teammate Jason Lynch, who went unbeaten as an unattached runner in the 2014 season.
"I really enjoyed the race atmosphere today," said Lambert. "I am proud of my teammates and the way they raced. We had three guys in the top 10 and we were all under 24 minutes. I am very happy that I finished the regular season with four-straight wins. It has been an awesome season, and I hope I can get one of the four qualifying individual spots at regionals."
In addition, Lambert spearheaded a one-two finish for the Wolverines at the meet and three top-10 UVU finishes. Freshman Anthony Ocegueda followed the UVU leader in second with a time of 23:41.5, while sophomore Kevin Lynch placed ninth to top off UVU's top-10 trio on the day.
In the men's 8K results, Utah Valley placed third with 95 points to finish within 28 points of nationally-ranked No. 25 Portland in first (67 points) and No. 20 UCLA (69 points) in second place. The Wolverines edged the fourth-place finisher Santa Clara (133 points) and Lamar (161 points) in fifth place among 16 other men's Division I programs at the meet.
"Our guys ran really well. Having three of the top 10 here at this meet when you race against national powerhouses like Portland and UCLA, it turned out to be a great meet for us. I think our team is rounding out to be pretty good, with Anthony up there with Tyson at this level of competition and Kevin coming up in the top 10 again. I'm excited for them, but at the same time we still have some work to do as we prepare for our conference meet," said Houle.
Despite missing two weeks with an injury, freshman Geofrey Kemboi shook off the rust in his return to claim the No. 4 spot among UVU scorers in 36th place among Division I competitors with a time of 24:41.6. Junior Brandon Edmondson stepped up for the second-straight week as the fifth and final Wolverine scorer, placing 49th with a time of 24:51.3 against Division I competitors.
Senior McKayla Walker paced a quartet of top-25 finishers for the UVU women's cross-country team among Division I runners, finishing in 12th place among 160 runners with a time of 20:46.4 in the women's 6K despite battling an illness. Joining their Wolverine teammate with top-25 finishes, senior Savannah Berry placed 18th with a time of 20:59.6, freshman Hannah Branch finished 23rd (21:03.9) and freshman Sammy Hollingsworth took 25th (21:09.7).
"McKayla also performed really well today. With many of them being sick, I'm very impressed with how the women did today and it shows they can push through. Savannah did a great job finishing second for us to have two girls in the top 20, and I can't say enough about our freshman class with Hannah and Sammy finishing in the top 25. I'm excited and proud of them today," Houle said.
In the men's and women's races, each UVU runner set personal records on Santa Clara's home 8K and 6K course. On the women's side, the Wolverines saw their top-five women's competitors finish with the top average time in program history at the meet behind an average time of 21:05.8.
UVU junior Paityn Chynoweth finished as the final scorer for the women's squad, running a time of 21:29.1 to land 41st place on the day.
Utah Valley's women scored 112 points on the day to finish fourth among 20 Division I programs, behind first-place San Jose State (60 points), Montana State (67 points) in second place and Oregon State (110 points) in third. UVU was joined in the top-five team finishers by in-state foe Southern Utah, which took fifth place with 140 points.
The Wolverines now prepare during the next two weeks for the 2017 WAC Cross Championships held in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on Oct. 28.