Utah Valley men's cross-country senior Tyson Lambert added another achievement to his stellar season, earning All-Mountain Region honors with a 24th-place finish at the 2017 NCAA Mountain Regional at Utah State's Steve and Dona Reeder Cross Country Course.
Lambert saved the best for his last appearance at regionals, as he recorded a personal record of 30:55.8 in the 10K for his highest career finish in the meet. The top-25 spot potentially gives Lambert an opportunity to represent UVU at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, on Nov. 18.
"I felt good," said Lambert. "I knew that if I wanted to be in the top 25 I had to be close to the front for most of the race. There were a couple (of) points I was pretty much at the top. That was a little intimidating to do, but at the same time I knew it was the only way I could achieve my goal today."
Per NCAA qualification rules, the top-four runners among the top-25 finishers who are not part of an NCAA qualifying team can qualify to receive an automatic bid as an individual for the NCAA Championship race.
"This is a big step for the program because we're still trying to make our mark. It is an amazing feat for Tyson [to finish top 25]. He's a great runner that has put the work in. It's always nice to see someone who did that work and had a goal see it come to fruition," Houle said.
Joining Lambert on top-50 finishers for Utah Valley on the men's side, sophomore Kevin Lynch placed 31st with a time of 31:13.4 in his regional and 10K debut. In the women's 6K, senior McKayla Walker concluded her career with a regional career-best 49th-place finish and a regional personal record time of 21:20.2.
Meanwhile, seniors Savannah Berry and Shevaun Ames recorded their own personal-best regional times and finishes with top-100 finishes in their final career cross-country races. Berry placed 66th after running a time of 21:32.8, while Ames added an 84th-place finish with a time of 21:51.
The Wolverines landed three more of their senior runners inside the top 100 in their last career race on the men's side, as senior Joseph Christensen notched a 75th-place finish (32:30.9) and senior Logan Petty finished in 98th place (33:06.5). Sophomore Adrian Jones joined his Utah Valley teammates in the top 100 by beating his previous career-best regional race times and finished in 92nd place with a time of 32:57.
UVU also saw four of its freshman competing for the men's and women's squads post top-100 times on the day during their debut in an NCAA Regional. Anthony Ocegueda finished 94th (33:00.7), Geofrey Kemboi took 99th (33:11.2) for the men, while Hannah Branch placed 76th (21:44.4) and Sammy Hollingsworth rounded out the group of top-100 finishers for the Wolverines.
In their own debuts at the prestigious race, UVU women's squad sophomore Paityn Chynoweth logged a 102nd-place finish (22:10.3), and freshman Miah Weaver ended her first year with the Wolverines in 116th.
"Over the last few years we've (struggled in) this race, but this was finally a good race for us. Even though we could've done a little better, we gave ourselves a shot in the arm and moved up quite a bit in the rankings. Our freshmen came in and did a great job, which is tough to do with the toughest region competing here and All-American runners," said Houle.
The nation's No. 1 ranked Colorado team on the women's side and the national top-ranked men's squad in defending national champion Northern Arizona swept the women's and men's races, respectively, for their automatic bids to nationals. Runner-up finishers in the nationally ranked No. 2 BYU men's and No. 2 New Mexico claimed the day's top-two automatic bids as well.
In the team standings, UVU placed 11th in the men's race and 13th in the women's race competing against a combined pool of 12 nationally ranked opponents. Among those 12 ranked foes, five entered the race with a top-five national ranking.
The full national championships qualifying field for individuals and teams will be announced Saturday, Nov. 11, by 1 p.m. MT. The 2017 NCAA Cross Country Championships will be hosted by Louisville.