Young team gains experience and learns lessons at Big Sky Championship

The Montana State cross country team’s youth and inexperience seemed to show at the Big Sky Conference Championships on Saturday, Oct. 31. After strong showings at the Bozeman Invitational and winning the Montana Invite the Bobcats finally seemed out of their element. At the Cedar Ridge Golf Course in Cedar City, Utah the men’s team took seventh and the women’s team took fifth.

Junior Diego Leon was the highest placer for the Cats, taking 18th and finishing the 8K in 26:33.9. Freshman Ty Mogan (27:15.0), senior Ethan Whilhem (27:25.2) and sophomore Matthew Gotta (27:25.9) finished as a pack, taking 41st, 44nd and 46th, respectively. Shortly after, freshman Brock Sandry (28:06.8) finished at 58th, freshman Justice Lamer took 71st and junior Shawn Peden rounded out the Cats at 84th.  Southern Utah took home the top spot with seven runners in the top 15 and Hayden Hawks (24:56.6) taking 1st.

In the 5K the women’s team was lead by senior Rachel Atwood placing 20th with a time of 19:30.1. It was the first time this season that Atwood led the Bobcats and a fitting way to finish her career against Big Sky Conference competition.  The rest of the team followed behind with  freshman Alyssa Snyder (19:06.3) 23rd, freshman Kalee Schmitz (19:07.1) 24th, junior Chiana Warner (19:18.8) 31st and junior Jenette Northy (19:40.5) 42nd they all finished within 40 seconds of each other. Weber State took the team title and Makena Morley of the University of Montana won the individual title.

Expectations were high for both teams going into this meet. Despite strong performances over the first three meets of the season, the Bobcats didn’t show the same improvement at the conference meet. However, the young squads gained valuable experience. The Bobcats still have chances to prove their ability at the NCAA Division I Mountain Region Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Nov. 13.