Oct. 29, 2010
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
They may be young, but two University of Wyoming student-athletes showed their skills on the big stage Friday in Laramie, Wyo.
Garrett Zans and Christine Nelson each took home Mountain West Conference Cross Country Freshman of the Year honors after they ran in the MWC Cross Country Championships at Jacoby Golf Course. They earned the distinction by being the first true freshmen across the finish line in the men's and women's races in the championship event.
"Both Christine and Garrett stepped up (and) got right up in there with the big dogs and competed well and hung tough," Wyoming coach Randy Cole said. "Kudos to them, and it's also a great sign for the future for our program. They're two tough kids and two really nice kids with a great work ethic."
Zans finished 16th overall in the men's race with a time of 25 minutes, 38.3 seconds in the 8,000-meter race. Nelson, who also earned Second Team All-Conference honors, was ninth in the women's 6,000-meter race, running to a mark of 22:13.0.
"It feels amazing," Nelson said. "I never would've dreamed of anything like that at all. It's a nice honor to have."
New Mexico swept the men's and women's team titles, while BYU junior Miles Batty won the men's race with a mark of 25:01.6, and New Mexico junior Natalie Gray took top honors in the women's race with her time of 21:20.7.
Battling breezy conditions, the Wyoming men's team took fourth place with 96 points. Juniors Greg Miller and Nick Ekel earned Second Team All-Conference honors by finishing 11th and 13th, respectively. Miller crossed the line with a time of 25:33.0 and Ekel wasn't far behind, finishing in 25:35.4. After Zans, senior Taylor Kelting was 28th, 26:28.6; and sophomore Ryan Griesbach rounded out the team scoring, finishing 33rd in 26:42.2. Sophomore Michael Banks was 34th in 26:54.5, followed by junior Sean Wilde in 40th, 27:24.2; junior Nik Deininger in 41st, 27:26.9; and sophomore Tyler Gifford in 50th with a time of 29:41.1.
The Wyoming women were sixth in the standings after scoring 141 points, just two points behind of fifth-place Utah. After Nelson, senior Francis Gipson was the next finisher, taking 27th place with a time of 23:18.8. She was followed by senior Alysha Davis in 36th, 23:52.4; sophomore Brooke Hughes in 37th, 23:55.9; and sophomore Maya Martinez in 40th, 24:03.2. The other finishes for Wyoming included sophomore Felicia McAfee in 51st, 24:34.0; freshman Andrea Klimowski in 57th, 25:12.4; and freshman Emily Swigart in 59th with a time of 25:21.8.
"It's a tough conference. There are some great runners and teams. To place up there in the upper portion is pretty good," Cole said. "I was hoping both teams would get a notch higher (but) the future's pretty good for the cross country team."
This year's meet marked the first time Wyoming had hosted a championship-style meet since 1975, and Cole was pleased with the overall results.
"I thought the meet went off really well," he said. "I'm proud we got to host it here in Laramie and for the University of Wyoming. We pulled it off."