Flashback in Wyoming Athletics History

October 29, 1977
Laramie, Wyo.
Glenn Jacoby Golf Course

On this date in Wyoming athletics history, the Cowboy Cross Country team took first place in the meet between Utah, CSU, and #4 BYU, sparking a spirited run for the 'Pokes into the NCAA Championships.

After a 7th place finish in the 1976 WAC Championships, the Cowboys were given new life in '77 as Coach Ron Richardson was able to mold together the best cross country team in Wyoming history with the "fab five" runners of Kenyan freshmen Solomon Chebor, Michael Cherono, Simon Kilili, Joseph Nzau, and sophomore Geir Kvernmo from Norway.

Just two weeks earlier, the Cowboys had won the team title at the Southwestern United States Track and Field Federation Meet in Denton, Tex., with Kilili, Nzau, and Chebor sweeping the podium for the 'Pokes.

Freshman Michael Cherono was one of five Cowboys who ran in the 1977 NCAA Cross Country Championship.

Coming off this victory, the Cowboys entered their meet in Laramie with a new found confidence to take on the Utes, Rams and Cougars for the final meet before the conference championships. Led by the swift feet of Kilili and Chebor, finishing first and second, Wyoming edged out the Cougars by three points to earn their second team title of the season.

Continuing on with their success, the Cowboys headed to Salt Lake City for the WAC Championships two weeks later. Again led by the freshmen tandem of Kilili and Chebor, the Pokes finished second only behind the defending national champion UTEP Miners. Kilili ran to a first place finish with a time of 29:09, with Chebor finishing fourth to edge out the two-time WAC champion James Munyala of UTEP. Nzau and Kvernmo also notched points for the Cowboys by finishing 13th and 16th respectively.

Ten days later, the 'Pokes arrived at Pullman, Wash., for the NCAA Championships. The Cowboys had another strong showing as they finished as the third best team in the country and beat BYU for the second time in the season. The 'Pokes were again led by Chebor and Kilili who finished 6th and 7th respectively, and were both named All-Americans. Nzau and Kvernmo also finished back-to-back in 35th and 36th, with Cherono finishing 169th to secure the Cowboy's third place finish.

(Written by John Rando)