Nov. 10, 2011
Even though the collegiate cross country season is nearing its end, there's still some big goals left on the docket.
The Cowboys and Cowgirls are aiming for some more competition after this weekend.
The Wyoming men's and women's cross country teams will take on the field at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships, which are Saturday in Provo, Utah. Hosted by BYU, it is a culminating event that will determine which teams and individuals will receive bids to the NCAA National Championships. The Mountain Region is made up of 19 schools that are at least 3,000 feet in elevation. The men's 10,000-meter race will begin at 11 a.m., and the women's 6,000-meter race starts at 12:15 p.m.
The Wyoming runners could punch their ticket to the NCAA National Championships with some good performances. The Mountain Region Championships qualify the top two teams automatically to the NCAA National Meet. In addition to those runners, there will be at-large teams selected following all of the regional competitions around the country to make up the field of 31 teams for the national championships.
The top four individual who are not on any of the automatic or at-large teams also will qualify for the national championships.
The men's team will be without one of their top runners, senior Greg Miller, who will be out due to injury. The Pokes will count on seniors Nick Ekel and Mike Banks and sophomore Garrett Zans to step up without Miller. Last year, the Cowboys ran to a sixth-place finish in the team standings. Ekel and Zans finished 28th and 40th, respectively.
The men's side will feature three of the top 12 teams in the nation, with BYU, Colorado and Northern Arizona, and the women's field includes Colorado and New Mexico.
The women will lean on junior Brooke Hughes, who has been the team's top finisher in every event this season. The emergence of freshman Holly Page will bolster the Cowgirls as well. Page was named Freshman of the Year at the Mountain West Championships. The women's team managed to finish 16th last season, and Hughes finished 108th overall.
"I just ask for a good competitive effort for this last go-around," Cole said. "We'll see if we get any shot at a national qualifying situation. We can still finish on a good note if everybody puts forth their best effort."