Cross-Country wins in Montana

[media-credit name=”Paul Pilkington” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]
WSU's John Coyle leads the pack in the Montana State Invitational. The Wildcats won the meet.
This past weekend, the Weber State University men’s and women’s cross-country teams participated in the 30th annual Montana State Invitational meet in Bozeman, Mont., with both the men’s and the women’s teams taking first place.

Last year at the Montana State Invitational, the men’s team finished third, 70 points behind the teams from MSU and Utah State University, which took first and second place respectively. On Saturday, however, the men’s team scored 33 points, putting it on its way to victory and defeating USU (41 points), MSU (70), Utah Valley University (96) and the University of Montana (121). Scoring in cross-country is based on the place achieved by the top five runners from each team, with each runner scoring points equal to the number of the place they came in.

WSU junior John Coyle said he was happy with the team’s performance and that winning the meet showed that WSU will be a strong competitive team this season.

“I didn’t do as good as I thought I could do,” Coyle said, “but I definitely wasn’t upset with it. It was a solid performance. It’s a good way to get back into racing, running a full five miles. It was a really good team performance.”

The WSU Wildcats had four runners finish in the top six in the men’s five-mile race. Coyle (24:28), senior Brett Hales (24:30), and sophomores Jason Nance (24:54) and Mike Hardy (25:02) finished in second, third, fifth and sixth place respectively. Going into the meet, USU’s men’s team was ranked sixth in the mountain region, while WSU was ranked 13th. Head Coach Paul Pilkington said he was confident in his team.

“I thought we had a chance to beat them if we executed well, and we did on Saturday,” Pilkington said.

Coyle said this was the first time the team was happy to have won the MSU Invitational, and that it has been a while since the team has won that meet.

“The last time we won that meet,” Coyle said, “was when I was a true freshman, so it would have been the fall of 2008 . . . I wasn’t running then — in fact, I don’t think any of the people who were at the meet this time were at that meet.”

Last season at the MSU Invitational, the women’s team came in a close second to the UM team, scoring 46 points. But on Saturday, the women’s team scored an impressive 28 points. USU came in second with 77 points, followed by UM with 78 points and UVU with 83 points.

Sophomore Amber Henry won the race with a time of 16:48, the fifth-fastest time in the history of the meet. Junior Sarah Callister came in second with a time of 16:59, and sophomore Laken Hintze finished third with a time of 17:21. Junior Jenna Deelstra (17:43) and sophomore Kayla Blackford (17:45) finished 10th and 11th respectively. Pilkington said that he was not surprised the women’s team won.

“The team is made up of a talented and experienced group of sophomores and juniors,” Pilkington said. “They have been ranked second in their conference for the past few years.”

Pilkington said that both the men’s and the women’s teams have a lot of talent in them. Both teams had one of their top runners sit out the meet, and they still came away with first-place victories.

Next week, the WSU cross-country teams will be traveling to South Bend, Ind., for the Notre Dame Invitational Meet on Sept. 30. WSU will be competing against 29 other teams, including some of the top- 30-ranked cross-country teams in the nation. The men’s and women’s teams are looking to improve on their results from last year, when the men’s team finished 16th out of 21 teams with 388 points, and the women’s team finished 15th with 375 points.