UW Cross Country Will Host Wyoming Invite to Begin 2005 Season

Sept. 2, 2005

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

The University of Wyoming cross country teams will begin their seasons in Laramie at the Jacoby Golf Course on Friday by hosting the Wyoming Invitational. The women will run a 2.5 mile course at 5:30 pm, while the men will go a distance of 4.25 miles at 6:00 pm.

In addition to UW, the field of teams that will be competing in the event are Air Force, Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado State, Carleton College (Northfield, Minn.), Iowa State, and Northern Colorado.

"It's going to be a great meet as far as the quality of competition and a nice size field in both races," said UW head cross country coach Randy Cole. Each race will have about 75 athletes competing.

The 2005 Wyoming Cross Country teams expect to gain back some respect they might have rendered in recent years as they begin this season under second year coach Randy Cole . Last season, two very young Cowboy and Cowgirl squads battled through their seasons with one team experiencing more success than the other. However, both will look to improve on their finishes from a year ago.

The Cowboys and Cowgirls will use this meet as a gauge to see where they are at right now.

"We want to see how our kids focus throughout the race and if they work the course well," added Cole. "We also want to see who is going to compete and go after people during the race."

The Cowgirls

The Cowgirls are coming of one of the best finishes in recent history as they finished third in the MWC, and fifth in the Mountain Region in 2004. According to a pre-season coaches poll, the UW women were picked ninth of 18 teams in the Mountain Region. The Cowgirls will have to find a replacement for All-MWC, All-Mountain Region, and NCAA National qualifier Jennifer Thompson. Coach Cole hopes that five returning seniors and two juniors can be just the remedy for replacing Thompson.

The UW women return seniors Amber Barlow, Tanice Barnett, Kristin Brauneis, Meredith Furtney, and Emerald Reid. Barnett is coming off a 2005 outdoor track season where she qualified for NCAA Nationals for the first time in her career in the 1500-meters. Juniors Maggie Diller and Michelle Kvernmo also join this solid nucleus. Kvernmo earned All-MWC honors during the outdoor track season in the 10,000-meters. Diller, Kvernmo, Reid, Barnett, and sophomore Gretchen Fagley all finished in the top-50 at the MWC Cross Country Championships last year.

Some freshmen women who will join the Cowgirls are Lauren Furtney of Cheyenne, Wyo. and Ellen Hart of Davenport Iowa. Furtney is the younger sister of Meredith and earned All-Conference and All-State honors in both cross country and track. Hart was a three-time All-Conference selection and was named MVP of her team twice during high school.

The Cowboys

On the men's side the Pokes will look to improve on their sixth place finish at the 2004 MWC Championships and 15th place finish in the Mountain Region.

The Cowboys will be led by seniors Brian Knight and Ragan Driver. Knight was the top Cowboy finisher at last year's MWC Championships in 27th place , while Driver followed him in 41st. The two, along with juniors Nick Cramer and Chris Schabron, will look to provide leadership and experience for a young Cowboy team.

Some newcomers that will bring young talent to the Pokes are junior transfer Philemon Tanui, sophomore Michael Huntington, and freshmen Matthew Heller, Eric Love, Brett Schuler, and Shadrack Too.

Tanui comes from Moi University where he posted some times that could prove to be respected in the MWC. Huntington and Too are not really new to UW. Huntington is coming back from serving a two year church mission and Too joined the UW program last January for both track seasons.

Heller was a two-time state 3-A champion at Lander High School, while Schuler was a four-time All-State performer at Wright High School in cross country. Love was a All-Conference honoree at Loveland High School and was the 2005 Regional Champion in the 800-meters.