LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's and women's cross country teams face another key meet in their hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Championships at this weekend's Louisville Pre-National Invite. The Cowboys will compete in the women's seeded 8-kilometer race at 7:30 a.m. MT on Saturday in Louisville, Ky., while the Cowgirls run the seeded 6-kilometer race at 8:15 a.m.
The full Wyoming squads are back in action for the first time since the Roy Griak Invite on Sept. 26, as head coach Bryan Berryhill sent just partial squads to the Rocky Mountain Shootout on Oct. 3. The Cowgirls and Cowboys now face another field loaded with ranked teams without the services of seniors Audra DeStefano and Mike Seas, though, as both are ill. However, the opportunity to beat some programs in the nation's top 30 gives Wyoming a chance to add to its resume for an NCAA at-large bid. The UW women finished 19th at last year's pre-nationals in Indiana, while the UW men were 32nd.
"This is our last meet before the conference championships so it will give us a really good idea of where we are right now," UW head coach Bryan Berryhill said. "I really like where both teams have been training the past three weeks since we've last raced. I'm excited to find out where we are so we can make a few changes going into the conference championships."
Last Time Out: Young Wyoming Harriers Perform Well in Boulder
Several young members of the University of Wyoming men's and women's cross country teams had solid showings at the Rocky Mountain Shootout on Oct. 3 in Boulder, Colo. Sophomore Lauren Hamilton paced the Cowgirls to a second-place team finish behind No. 2 Colorado, while redshirt freshman Jesse Gray led a group of three Cowboys in the men's race.
"The race was really about seeing which of our young kids could step up for the team," UW assistant coach Amanda Clower said. "The Cowgirls did an awesome job of working together as a group. Lauren led from the start, but it was great to see a freshman in Bella right behind her. It was good to see that confidence from her. All our young kids really fought for spots."
Hamilton finished 12th overall on the 5.8-kilometer course in a time of 22:07. Freshman Bella Pape was four seconds behind her for 15th place, while junior Cassidy Meade was 20th in 22:28 and sophomore Quinn DeStefano was 22nd in 22:29. Freshman Kiah Leonard was UW's last scorer in 22:38 for 25th. Junior Catherina Cloetta finished in 29th place at 22:51, while three freshmen followed her. Regan VanDePol was 33rd in 22:56, Solana Quistorff was 47th in 23:29 and Emily Person was 56th in 24:03.
The Injury Bug
Wyoming has been a bit unlucky this season in terms of injuries. Seniors Audra DeStefano and Mike Seas are doubtful for the Cowgirls and Cowboys this weekend. Both have been diagnosed with mononucleosis. DeStefano was UW's top runner in the first two meets this season, while Seas was in UW's top eight. Sophomore Kerry White, the Cowgirls' top returner this fall, has been battling a foot injury she suffered in the first meet of the season.
Wyoming in the USTFCCCA Regional Polls
The Cowgirls stayed eighth in the latest USTFCCCA regional polls, while the Cowboys stayed ninth. Both teams started this season ranked 10th. The Wyoming women finished last season fifth (second Mountain West team) in the Mountain Region, after climbing as high as fourth. The Cowboys were 10th (fifth MW team). The polls are on page three of the notes.
Wyoming's cross country squads have a distinct local feel this season. A total of 11 of the 20 Cowboys hail from the Equality State, including Jonah Henry of Laramie, while nine of the 21 Cowgirls are natives of the state.
Wyoming races at the Mountain West Championships on Oct. 30 in Reno, Nev.