Wyoming Harriers Set Sights on MWC Championships

Oct. 27, 2010


Wyoming cross country coach Randy Cole has treated each of the fall season's races as a "stepping stone" en route to the Mountain West Conference Championships.

It's now time to take one of the most important steps as the University of Wyoming will host the 2010 MWC Cross Country Championships on Friday at Jacoby Golf Course. The women's 6,000-meter race will start at 10 a.m., followed by the men's 8,000-meter race at 11 a.m.

"The team rapport has started off well and has just gotten stronger, which is going to help us do well in the championship races," Cole said. "Fitness levels have improved and race tactics have gotten better, too, so now's the time to take the test and enjoy the work that we've put into everything. I think we're confident we can give our best individual and group effort."

The men's team will lean on one of its leaders in junior Greg Miller, who has been the top Cowboy finisher in all four fall events. Freshman Garrett Zans also has been a bright spot in his first year of collegiate racing, and senior Taylor Kelting has been a steady force, providing leadership and depth. As a team, the Cowboys have finished sixth or better in all four events in the fall season.

The men's race features No. 12 New Mexico, the defending conference champs, and BYU, which currently is ranked No. 13. New Mexico junior Nicholas Kipruto and senior Rory Fraser are expected to pace the Lobos, while BYU junior Miles Batty enters the race with the MWC's top 8K mark this season at 23 minutes, 42.4 seconds.

The Cowgirls, meanwhile, have a young gun leading the pack in freshman Christine Nelson, who has been the top finisher in all four events this season. She has etched her name into the Wyoming record books in several events and has shown the ability to run from the front of the pack, and also come back from a rough start. Seniors Alysha Davis and Francis Gipson have been consistent so far, and have provided a solid top-three for the Cowgirls in their races. The Wyoming women have two second-place finishes this year.

The 10th-ranked New Mexico women look primed to take home a second consecutive conference crown. The Lobos return senior Ruth Senior, last year's MWC Championship runner-up, as well as junior Lacey Oeding, who was fourth at the event. BYU senior Cecily Lemmon Lew, the 2009 MWC Female Athlete of the Year, returns for the Cougars, along with juniors Katy Andrews and Katie Bowen also are expected to pace BYU. Bowen owns the conference's best 6K time this season with a mark of 20:42.3.

The race represents the third time Wyoming has hosted a championship-style cross country race on its home course. UW hosted the 1975 Western Athletic Conference championship race and the 1967 NCAA men's championship race.

"It's a neat honor for Wyoming to get to host a championship event," Cole said. "We felt like we could do it as well as anyone else. We've worked out on it throughout the fall and (the UW athletes) have got a pretty good idea of how to pace themselves."

Complete results and photos from the championship can be accessed following the conclusion of the event at www.wyomingathletics.com or on the Mountain West website, www.theMWC.com. Fans planning to attend the race are encouraged to park in the Jacoby Golf Course parking lot.