Oct. 28, 2005
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming cross country teams will compete at the 2005 Mountain West Conference Championships in Fort Collins, Colo., on Saturday. Both teams have steadily improved throughout the season and look to continue that success into this weekend. The women will be running a 6,000-meter courses, while the men will run a distance of 8,000-meters.
On the women's side, No. 8 ranked BYU is the clear cut favorite with Colorado State not far behind. However, after that there is a lot of parity within the conference that should lead to an exciting finish.
The Cowgirls are led by three women who have all taken turns finishing at the top throughout the season. They are senior Tanice Barnett, junior Michelle Kvernmo, and sophomore Gretchen Fagley. Fagley holds the ninth fastest time (21:42) in the conference at the 6,000-meter distance as Barnett and Kvernmo posted the 11th (21:47.9) and 24th (22:21.5) fastest times. Another Cowgirl that has come on strong in limited action is newcomer Nikki Peterson. The junior has only ran in one race this year, but she was the fourth UW woman to cross the line with a time of 22:36.4. She will join senior Emerald Reid, junior Maggie Diller, and freshman Lauren Furtney for the fourth and fifth spots for the Cowgirls.
"It is very important that our leaders get up there to where they need to be," said UW head coach Randy Cole. "Then it is even more important that our fourth and fifth runners finish strong because they could mean the difference in us finishing third or seventh."
In the men's competition, BYU is also heavily favored coming into the meet with the No. 6 ranked team currently in the country. They should battle it out with Air Force who is ranked No. 28, but then, just like on the women's side, the rest of the conference is pretty even.
The Pokes have been led all year by junior Philemon Tanui who comes into Saturday's competition with the 19th fastest time (24:48) in the conference at this distance. He will look to make a name for himself in his first conference championship as a Cowboy. Senior Brian Knight posted the 24th fastest 8,000-meter time of 24:58 during the season and will look to finish up his Wyoming cross country career strong. After that it could be anyone for the Cowboys. Senior Ragan Driver has been the Pokes' third finisher throughout most of the season, but junior Nick Cramer, sophomore Michael Huntington, and freshmen Shadrack Too and Brett Schuler could be anywhere in the mix as well.
"Our front runners have to be up there within the leaders and our three, four, and five runners have to battle to improve their positions throughout the race," added Cole. "I believe our men's team has a solid shot to finish in the top half of the field."
The race will be held at Collindale Golf Course with the men's race starting at 10:00 a.m. and the women's following at 11:00 a.m.