Utah State cross-country will compete at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships on Friday at the East Bay Golf Course in Provo on Friday, Nov. 9. The women's 6-kilometer race will start at 11 a.m., followed by the men's 10-kilometer run at noon.
“Both teams are very excited to compete,” said second-year USU head coach Artie Gulden. “This is what they’ve worked for since May and June is running at regionals and trying to make it back to the NCAA Championships.”
The championship events are free to attend, and concessions and merchandise will be available for purchase.
The Mountain Region is one of the most deep and competitive groups in the country, as it boasts the top-two teams in both the men's and women's national polls. At the top on the men's side are No. 1 Northern Arizona and No. 2 BYU. On the women's side, No. 1 New Mexico, which is coming off its 11th straight Mountain West Championship, leads the way.
“Our race plan this weekend is to go out and compete together as a team,” said senior Cierra Simmons. “We’ve had different bright spots in every race this season, and it is going to take all of them to finish how we want and qualify for the NCAAs. We’ve got big goals, and this is the race we’ve been preparing for. It’ll be a fight to get to nationals.”
The men's side also features a top-10 team, as Colorado comes in at No. 8, while Air Force sits at No. 13. Furthermore, Colorado State is ranked No. 14 and Wyoming enters the race at No. 18 in the nation. The six nationally-ranked teams in the region are the second-most in the nation behind the West Region.
“Our region is the strongest in the country,” said Gulden, referring to the men’s race. “We just need to mix it up, run for each other and go beat some strong teams.”
As for the women's teams, No. 4 Colorado and No. 9 BYU sit at the top 10. Rounding out the rankings are Southern Utah at No. 22 and Northern Arizona at No. 28. The five nationally-ranked teams are tied for the most in the nation with the Great Lakes and West Region.
“We have experienced a lot of adversity this year, which has made us stronger and hopefully, the ladies can utilize that strength during the race,” Gulden said.
For the Aggie men, junior Luke Beattie is coming off a second-team all-Mountain West performance where he placed 14th overall in the 8-kilometer race. As a team, the men finished fifth out of eight at the Mountain West Championship race.
“We have trained hard, and we are fresh and ready to go this week,” said junior Adam Hendrickson. “We hope to return to nationals this year and do some good things there. We have had a goal this season to start a legacy of being a nationally-ranked team, and regionals is one of the last steps to accomplishing that goal this year.”
On the women's side, senior Alyssa Snyder earned second-team all-conference honors as she placed 13th in the 6-kilometer race. The women finished fourth out of 11 at the Mountain West Championship race.Comment on this story
Teams that finish first and second in each region automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, while the remaining teams await the decision concerning 13 national at-large bids. The at-large selection is determined through a review of regular-season competition and finish at regional championships. More details on qualifying for the NCAA National Championships can be found on ustfccca.org.