FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The University of Wyoming cross country team began its 2016 campaign Friday as the Cowgirls placed fourth and the Cowboys took fifth at the CSU Invite. Freshman Kacey Doner started her collegiate cross country career with a bang, crossing the finish line as the top Cowgirl, while junior Jonah Henry was the Cowboys’ top finisher.
Doner, a Fort Collins native, finished 19th overall and 12th among collegiate competitors in the women’s 5-kilometer race at the Hughes Stadium Cross Country Course. She was the top freshman finisher, crossing the line in 18 minutes, 28 seconds. Junior Quinn DeStefano finished just behind Doner at 18:35, good for 23rd place overall and 16th among collegiate competitors. Senior Megan Brunette was the Cowgirls’ third finisher, taking 27th at 18:40, while sophomore Isabella Pape was close behind in 29th at 18:49. True freshman Calbi Ausmann showed promise as well, making the Cowgirls’ top five after taking 33rd at 19:03. Overall, the Cowgirls contributed a solid pack split of 35 seconds en route to a fourth-place team finish behind Air Force, Colorado and Colorado State.
“I thought the younger kids raced pretty well. When we plug our top runners back into the equation, things are going to look really good,” said head cross country coach Bryan Berryhill of the women’s squad. “I think it was a solid start for a pretty young and inexperienced squad, and I think it’ll be exciting when we plug those veterans back in.”
Doner was rightfully pleased with her finish. “I was pretty nervous, and the start was kind of intimidating, but my teammates really helped with that,” she said after the race. “I was really happy with how I finished. It was a good confidence booster.”
Meanwhile, familiar faces lined the Cowboys’ top five on Friday. Jonah Henry placed 16th overall and 12th among collegiate competitors, finishing the 5-kilometer course in 15:17 as he crossed the line wedged in a pack of nine runners that finished within a three-second window. Mike Seas was next for the Cowboys, taking 21st overall at 15:21 in what Berryhill said may have been the best race of his collegiate career.
“I thought he had a good race,” Berryhill said of the redshirt senior. “I’m just proud of how hard he worked over the summer. He’s in a good spot."
Seas mostly agreed with his coach’s sentiments. “It was the best start to a season I’ve ever had,” he said following the race. “It was an 11-second PR on the course, so I’m happy with it. I’m excited for things to come this season.”
Sophomore star Ricky Faure crossed the line third for the Cowboys, clocking 15:24 for the 5K to finish 22nd overall. Freshman and New Zealand native Harry Ewing had a solid first showing at high altitude, finishing as the Cowboys’ fourth runner with a time of 15:54. Sophomore Calum Kepler rounded out the Cowboys’ top five, finishing in 16:12.
Berryhill is excited for the year to come, but knows his athletes have more to prove. “Overall, I leave here content with the day,” he said Friday. “I definitely know we’re still better than what we showed. Good news is, it’s the first race and November’s a long way away.”
The UW harriers will be back in action on Sept. 17 in Bozeman, Mont., at the Montana State-Bozeman Running Company Invitational.