Both the Montana State men’s and women’s cross country teams travelled to Louisville, Kentucky to compete in the Pre-Nationals Race on Saturday Oct. 17th. Eleven nationally ranked teams took to the field at this competition with 73 men’s teams and 80 women’s teams. Due to the sheer amount of teams at the meet they divided the race into two divisions: “red” and “black,” with the red division being “seeded” teams. The Montana State men’s team raced in the Black unseeded division while the women took on the best in the country in the red “seeded” division.
In the black division, the Bobcats took 20th out of 31 teams, junior Diego Leon was the first to reach the finish line placing 49th in at 24:59. The rest of the seven Cats finished within a minute of each other. The only exception was senior Jake Turner who returned after being injured during the first race of the season. MSU combined for a respectable showing but ended up looking up at defending Big Sky Conference champ Weber State, who placed 17th. Liberty University, out of Virginia, won the black division.
The women’s team took 42nd out of 45 in the red “seeded” division with freshman Alyssa Snyder leading the way with a time of 22:58, 58 seconds behind the winner. While Snyder headed out at her own pace, the rest of the team put together an impressive effort with six runners finishing within 30 seconds of each other. Conference foes Eastern Washington took 13th and even more impressive, last year’s conference champions Weber State took eighth. With all three schools competing in the upper division, the strength of the Big Sky Conference was on display. Most of the schools they were competing against schools have double and some even triple the enrollment numbers. Almost every major NCAA Division I Conference was there.
In the men’s red seeded division, Thomas Curtin of Virginia Tech, a senior, recorded his first ever cross country victory. Thomas beat out favorite and two-time defending champion junior Edward Cheserek of the University of Oregon by more than four seconds with a time of 23 minutes and 18 seconds. The University of Colorado won the overall meet and in second was the notorious University of Oregon.
Both teams have shown continual improvement as the season rolls on. With splits between them getting shorter the team hopes to use space to ensure the pack of runners stays with them. Hoping to use this team approach the Bobcats have their biggest race of the season on Oct. 31 in Cedar City, Utah as they hope to challenge all of the Big Sky Conference and be crowned BSC Champs.