High Expectations on the High Plains

Aug. 4, 2004


The University of Wyoming cross countryteams are about to embark on another long, toughseason. However, this year marks the beginning of anew direction for the UW cross country programs.Randy Cole enters his first season at the helm of theprogram and looks to lead Wyoming back to itsdominating tradition.

Cole's resume speaks for itself: he guided theKansas State women's program to three NCAA MidwestRegional titles (1998, 1999, 2000) and a Big 12Championship (1998). He takes over two Wyomingprograms that have yet to finish above fifth place atthe Mountain West Conference Cross Country Championships.

However, the UW cross country runners areno stranger to their new head coach. Cole accepted hiscurrent position with Wyoming Track and Field lastJanuary, and worked with several of his currentrunners during the spring track seasons. Cole'sknowledge of the sport had an immediate impact asseveral UW distance runners recorded personal besttimes during the 2004 indoor and outdoor seasons.UW will need to show those improvements if they wishto make a strong showing at the 2004 NCAA MountainRegion Championships, the toughest crosscountry region in the NCAA.

Junior Brian Knight is the top returner on aCowboy squad that showed signs of promise lastseason. The Pokes finished fifth at the 2003 MWC XCChampionships, but had the talent to place muchhigher. Knight was the top Cowboy finisher in everyrace last season and saved his best performance for theMWC Championships, finishing 20th overall.

Sophomore Ragan Driver will be a big bonusfor UW this year. He came on strong at the end of lastyear to place 24th in the MWC field. Other solidveterans returning for the Pokes include juniors BrianHarnisch and Matt Hudson.

Leading the pack for the Cowgirls will besenior Jennifer Thompson, who was UW's top finisherin five of six meets in 2003. Thompson finished 18thfor the Cowgirls at the MWC Championships, andrecorded her best time of 2003 at the NCAA MountainRegional.

Challenging Thompson for the top spot will besenior Natalie Kean who, along with juniors EmeraldReid, Michelle Kvernmo and Christine Michel, hascontinued to improve under Cole's tutelage. SeniorTanice Barnett will also be a strong asset for theCowgirls this season, as well as junior KristinBrauneis.

The Cowboys and Cowgirls open the 2004Cross Country schedule Friday, Sept. 3rd, when theyhost the Wyoming Invitational at the Jacoby GolfCourse in Laramie.