The men’s and women’s cross country teams competed hard to earn sixth and seventh place and put a pair of underclassmen in the top 20 at the Big Sky Conference Championships Oct. 28 in Moscow, Idaho.
The men’s 8-kilometer race featured a couple of nationally ranked teams, No. 20 Southern Utah and No. 1 Northern Arizona, in a close finish with just three points separating sixth and fourth place. Northern Arizona claimed the men’s title, sweeping the field with a perfect score of 15. Southern Utah followed in second with 48 points, Weber State with 92, Idaho State with 174, Idaho with 174 and Montana State finished sixth with 176. Sophomore Noah Kirkland was proud of his team’s performance among such tough competition. “We fought hard on a very muddy and hilly course. We went out quick, with the leaders going through the first mile in 4:30, but we all stayed composed to run our own race,” Kirkland continued, “Our team came together at conference to run our best race all season.”
Sophomore Ty Mogan led the way for the Cats, finishing the course in 25:20, good for 17th place overall. Senior Zachary Kughn, who consistently competed well this season, finished 27th overall in 25:50. Sophomore Anthony Schmalz was the third finisher in the Bobcat lineup for the second meet in a row after he finished 37th in 26:09. Freshman Isaac Barville was the fourth Bobcat who finished 46th in 26:24 in his first Big Sky meet. Sophomore Noah Kirkland finished 49th in 26:31 to conclude the scoring. The last three finishers for the Bobcats were senior Adam Wollant who finished 54th in 26:39, senior Shawn Peden who finished 57th in 26:45 and freshman Cameron Carroll who took 60th in 26:53.
The women’s team competed well despite dealing with various injuries that arose throughout the week. The team finished in 7th place with 179 points behind Eastern Washington with 170, Montana with 136, Idaho with 115, Southern Utah with 99, runner-up Weber State with 60 points and Northern Arizona, who also took the women’s title with 48 points. Sophomore Kendra Larson was impressed with the team for making the best of their situation. “There were two main things that we wanted to accomplish: to be in good position at the 3k mark and to be mentally competitive, which we were able to do,” Larson said.
Sophomore Alyssa Snyder was the first runner in for MSU, finishing the women’s 5-kilometer race in 18:10 for 15th place. Junior Louisa Serpe, who greatly improved after last year’s performance at conference championships, finished in 18:41 for 31st, 41 spots higher than the previous year. Sophomore Layne Oliver was third in the lineup, taking 40th place in 18:50. In her first appearance of 2016, senior Christie Schiel place 46th in 19:00. The final scorer for the women was freshman Madison Liechty, who finished 47th in 19:06. The sixth, seventh and eighth finishers for the Bobcats were sophomore Kendra Larson who took 54th in 19:19, sophomore Kelsi Lasota who grabbed the 63rd spot in 19:29 and freshman Kimberly Parsell to round things out at 77th place in 20:10.
The Bobcats are feeling confident and looking forward to the next race of the season at the NCAA Mountain Region Championship on Nov. 11 in Logan, Utah. This race will be an opportunity for the men and women to qualify for the NCAA Championships.