Rachel Lange was BYU's top finisher in third place at the UC Riverside Invitational. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Both BYU cross country teams return home after a successful weekend with the women placing first at the UC Riverside Invitational and the men placing third at the Roy Griak Invitational.
Led by freshman Rachel Lange, the BYU women’s cross country team had another first-place finish Saturday, beating out 34 teams.
“This was a solid race,” said Patrick Shane, BYU women’s cross country head coach. “I asked each athlete to step up and contribute, and they did-in an upset. We were not expected to win this race, but we kept to our race plan and proved to be successful.”
Lange placed third overall with a time of 17:08, followed by sophomore Anna Sperry who finished in 17:10 for fourth. Katie Palmer came in ninth, 17:25, Stephanie Jensen placed 13th, 17:39, while Laura Taylor closed up the top five Cougars in 17:50,18th overall.
“I went in confident and relaxed,” said Lange. “I just tried to be stronger at the end of the race. We got a good start and had really good positioning, which helped us to all feed off each other. Laura was key for us because we were pretty even with the other teams, but she came up stronger and finished off the win.”
Out of 400 runners, the Cougars came in with a top score of 46 points, beating out second-place UC Riverside with 55 points and third place Cal State San Marcos with 131 points.
The course was different than last week’s true cross country outdoor muddy terrain in Idaho. This week the athletes received a bit of a break running on flatter ground with fewer hills and even some downhill areas.
“I really liked this course,” said Sperry. “I’m from here, so I’m used to the environment and it was fun to be back in familiar conditions.”
With the course being more lax, the team addressed its focus to the race plan, keeping close to each other, feeding off the other’s momentum.
“We did a good job running as a team,” said Sperry. “We were back and forth the whole meet with the top runners from the other teams, so being able to hold onto Rachel and use that energy really helped us all to keep up with each other and push it to the end.”
While the women’s team took first in California, the men’s team came in third at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota.
“We had some runners really step up and race strong today,” said BYU men’s cross country head coach Ed Eyestone. “Some of our athletes were sick, so others had to step up and really perform well for our team. This shows that if we can get everyone feeling great, we can be extremely strong.”
Taking first place for the 8K was Adams State with 75 points, second place went to Iowa State with 89 points and BYU took third with 91 points.
Coming in first for the Cougars, and fourth overall, was senior Stephan Shay with a time of 24:13. He was followed by Kyle Perry, finishing sixth with a time of 24:17 and Jacob Gustafsson, 16th in 24:48. Gustafsson was followed Nathan Ogden and Thomas Gruenwald, who took 32nd and 33rd, respectively, with a time of 25:11.
“I think we’re still on track for being where we should be,” said Eyestone. “Jacob had a real breakthrough race and he performed very well for our team.”
With no races now until the Pre-Nationals meet coming up Oct. 18 in Indiana, the men’s team hopes to get everyone fully recovered and feeling strong.
While the men’s team prepares for Pre-Nationals, the women’s team has one more race at the Bill Dellinger Invitational next week in Eugene, Ore.
UC Riverside Invitational, Sept. 27, 2008
UC Riverside Campus Farm Course
1-Dallon Williams, Cal State San Marcos, 16:55.9
2-Cristina Olivas, UC Riverside, 17:00.6
3-Rachel Lange, BYU,17:08.3
4-Anna Sperry, BYU, 17:10.0
5-Danielle Evans, UC Riverside,17:13.7
6-Brenda Martinez, UC Riverside, 17:22.2
7-Julie Swail, Cal Coast TC, 17:24.3
8-Jenni Shearer, UNLV, 17:24.8
9-Katie Palmer, BYU, 17:25.7
10-Lilyana Morejon, Cal State Northridge, 17:26.5
2-UC Riverside, 55
3-CS San Marcos, 131
6-The Janes RC, 164
Roy Griak Invitational
Les Bolstad Golf Course, University of Minnesota
1. Elkanah Kibet, Auburn, 23:55
2. Hassan Mead, Minnesota, 24:07
3. Mark Korir, Wyoming, 24:10
4. Stephan Shay, BYU, 24:12
5. Reuben Chebon, Adams State, 24:15
6. Kyle Perry, BYU, 24:16
7. Felix Kibioywo, Auburn, 24:17
8. Hillary Bor, Iowa State, 24:18
9. Aaron Braun, Adams State, 24:20
10. Kiel Uhl, Iowa State, 24:21
1. Adams State, 75
2. Iowa State, 89
3. BYU, 91
4. Minnesota, 107
5. Auburn, 135
6. Washington State, 215