LARAMIE, Wyo. – The University of Wyoming cross country team travels to Kuna, Idaho, this week to take on conference foes at the 2016 Mountain West Cross Country Championships. The Cowboys enter the conference championships on the heels of a 20th-place performance at Indiana State’s Pre-National Invitational, with Jonah Henry taking 40th place out of 263 individuals in a very talented field. Henry, who has led the Cowboys in three of four races during the 2016 season, is looking for the first all-conference performance of his collegiate cross country career. He finished 20th overall, just six spots away from a second team all-conference award, as a sophomore in 2015.
Harry Ewing looks to join Henry in the all-conference ranks and would be the first Wyoming freshman to earn an all-MW award if he finishes in the top 14 at the Falcon Crest Golf Club in Kuna. Ewing has found himself in the Cowboys’ top five in his first four career races. He led the Brown and Gold with a 45th-place effort at the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational and has battled through illness to string together four consecutive solid finishes.
In 2015, the Cowboys tied their best finish at a MW championship meet, placing fourth as a team with four runners in the top 20. Senior Aaron Derner earned first team all-MW honors after taking fourth place overall, marking the third straight season that a Cowboy harrier earned a spot on one of the two all-conference teams. Air Force won the team title last season on its way to a sweep of the Mountain West cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field titles. Colorado State junior Jerrell Mock will attempt to defend his individual title on Friday after leading the conference field as a sophomore in 2015. As a team, Colorado State enters the meet ranked No. 17 nationally, while Boise State is No. 24 and Air Force is No. 28.
On the women’s side, the Wyoming Cowgirl cross country team enters the 2016 MW championships with a tremendous amount of momentum after placing seventh out of 19 teams at the Penn State Open. The Cowgirls ran past William & Mary, who was receiving votes in the USTFCCCA Division I National Coaches’ Poll at the time of the race, while Texas was the only non-vote-getting team to beat the Brown and Gold at Penn State. Lauren Hamilton continued her dominant 2016 season in Pennsylvania, finishing 19th overall in a field of 224 competitors to lead the Cowgirls for the third consecutive race. Hamilton will be searching for her first career all-MW performance on Friday after taking 22nd as a sophomore at the 2015 MW championships.
The Cowgirl squad features a number of athletes who are capable of making a run at all-conference awards. Redshirt senior Audra DeStefano returns to the conference meet for the first time since 2014 after missing the 2015 MW championships due to illness. In 2014, she finished just one position away from an all-conference award, taking 15th overall to follow up a 24th-place finish in 2013. She’ll look for a third career top-25 conference finish on Friday in Kuna. Junior Kerry White was Wyoming’s top finisher at the 2015 MW championships, taking 16th overall to miss an all-conference award by just two places. The New Zealand native was an all-conference finisher in 2014, placing 11th overall against conference foes.
Freshman harrier Kacey Doner has finished in UW’s top five in all four of her career races so far, including a team-leading performance at the season-opening CSU Invite. If she earns an all-Mountain West spot on Friday, she will join White (2014) and Christine Nelson (2010) as the only freshmen in Cowgirl history to accomplish the feat in their first season wearing the Brown and Gold. Wyoming placed fifth as a team at the 2015 meet, with White, Megan Brunette and Hamilton all finishing in the top 25. Wyoming’s third-place team finishes in 2004 and 2014 stand as its best conference performances since the inception of the Mountain West in 1999.
No. 7 New Mexico enters Friday’s meet searching for its ninth straight Mountain West women’s cross country title, while Boise State sophomore Allie Ostrander will attempt to defend her individual title after she became BSU’s third-straight individual conference champion in 2015. The Broncos are ranked 28th nationally as they prepare to host the annual meeting of Mountain West teams, while Air Force is receiving 16 votes in the USTFCCCA poll.
The women’s 6-kilometer race will begin at 10 a.m. MT on Friday from the Falcon Crest Golf Club in Kuna while the men’s 8-kilometer race will follow at 10:45. Fans can stream both races on the Mountain West Network.