Cross Country

Wyoming Harriers Begin Postseason Run at MW Championships

Audra DeStefano

Audra DeStefano

Oct. 30, 2013

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

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After their second team titles of the season, the University of Wyoming men's and women's cross country teams have their sights set squarely on the Mountain West Championships on Friday at the Air Force Academy. The Cowboys race an 8-kilometer course at 10 a.m. MT, while the Cowgirls run 6 kilometers at 10:45 a.m. MT on the Eisenhower Golf Club.

Wyoming captured the men's 6-kilometer and women's 5-kilometer titles at the Highlander Invite on Oct. 19, as all 16 Cowboys and Cowgirls posted season bests for the respective distances. Senior Garrett Zans' 17:48 6k was the fastest by a Cowboy since last season, while junior Holly Page's 17:18 5k was the fastest by a Cowgirl since 2010.

Now the UW harriers face one of their toughest tests yet this season in the conference meet. The men's side of the Mountain West features four teams ranked in the nation's top 30, including five-time defending champion New Mexico at No. 9. The women's side has two ranked squads, including four-time defending champion New Mexico at No. 9 as well. Both Lobo squads were picked to repeat in the preseason coaches poll, while Wyoming was tabbed sixth on both sides.

"If our top-five runners for the men and women have their best race of the season, we can finish in the top three in both," UW head coach Bryan Berryhill said. "That's been our goal all season and I think that is an attainable goal now, especially since we are running at altitude. That is a big mental advantage for us. Only a couple schools are dropping down in elevation, while everyone else has to come up. [Garrett] Zans and [Holly] Page both have a chance to challenge for a conference individual title, but, for what we want to do as a team, both need to be at least all-conference."

Last Time Out: Wyoming Earns Both Team Titles at Highlander Invite
Senior Garrett Zans and junior Holly Page notched historic races to pace the University of Wyoming cross country teams to the men's and women's team titles at the Highlander Invite on Oct. 19 in Riverside, Calif. Zans posted the fastest 6 kilometers by a Cowboy since last season with a time of 17:48, while Page accomplished the same feat for the Cowgirls in 17:18 over 5 kilometers.

"For both teams to win, including the men in dominant fashion, is what we really wanted to get out of this meet," UW head coach Bryan Berryhill said. "These are the same teams we raced here last year, so a good performance like this will really help us heading into the Mountain West Championship. The team got outside of their comfort zone today and got some good turnover going on a hard-packed course."

The Cowboys nearly posted a perfect score, as UW runners crossed the line in first, second, third, fifth and seventh in the team race. Zans led the way in third place individually, as his time was two seconds better than last year's race, the previous top 6k time for Cowboy. Sophomore Amos Bowen was one place behind in 17:50 and he was followed quickly by sophomore Aaron Derner in 17:53 for fifth overall. Senior Mike Banks covered the course in 17:57 for seventh and redshirt sophomore Dylan Morin rounded out UW's scorers in 18:07. UW's gap from its first-to-fifth runner was just 19 seconds.

"Our men's pack was by far the best it's been this year," Berryhill said. "It was really good to see Dylan [Morin] work his way into the top five. We changed up his workouts a little over the last three weeks and he's really responded."

The Cowgirls' win was impressive as well, as they topped a field that included San Diego State and USC. Page's 17:18 placed her second individually and was five seconds faster than Christine Nelson's 17:23 at the 2010 Chili Pepper Festival, the previous fastest 5k by a Cowgirl. Freshman Megan Brunette placed fifth in 17:34 and sophomore Audra DeStefano crossed the line in 17:57 for 10th. Freshman Ali Walker finished 18th in 18:15, while junior Devon England was two places back in 18:17.

"Holly [Page] and Megan [Brunette] continued to run really well," Berryhill said. "We also got another solid race from Audra [DeStefano] and maybe the best race of her year from Ali [Walker]. A couple of our girls were pretty sick this week, so it was great to see them race really mentally tough."

2013 Highlander Invite
Men's Team Results
1. Wyoming - 18
2. UC Irvine - 45
3. CSU Fullerton - 78
4. UC Riverside - 89
5. CSU Northridge - 155

Wyoming Men Individual Results
3. Garrett Zans - 17:48
4. Amos Bowen - 17:50
5. Aaron Derner - 17:53
7. Mike Banks - 17:57
11. Dylan Morin - 18:07
17. Michael Kesy - 18:26
25. Mike Seas - 18:34
31. Michael Rotellini - 18:42

Women's Teams Results
1. Wyoming - 54
2. UC Riverside - 64
3. CSU Fullerton - 65
4. San Diego State - 92
5. USC - 130

Wyoming Women Individual Results
2. Holly Page - 17:18
5. Megan Brunette - 17:34
10. Audra DeStefano - 17:57
18. Ali Walker - 18:15
20. Devon England - 18:17
27. Emily Swigart - 18:27
45. Cassidy Meade - 19:05
53. Mary Kozlowski - 19:20

Wyoming History at the Mountain West Championships
The Wyoming men's highest team finish at the MW meet is fourth place, including the last time in 2010, while their lowest point total was 85 in 2011. Mark Korir owns the highest individual placing by a Cowboy, as he won in 2008. The Cowgirls finished third in 2004 for their highest team placing ever, and totaled 97 points, their lowest ever, the same year. Holly Page has the best individual finish with a fourth-place showing last season.

Fast Times at Riverside
All 16 Wyoming athletes that ran at the Highlander Invite on Oct. 19 ran season-best times, including two Cowboys and four Cowgirls by more than 50 seconds. Seven Cowboys ran times in the 6 kilometer that qualified for UW's fastest times since 1990, including the fastest by Garrett Zans in 17:50. Three Cowgirls posted times in UW's fastest 5 kilometers since 1990, including the fastest by Holly Page in 17:18.

The Same Four
After having the same top four in each meet last season, the Cowboys are doing the same in 2013. Aaron Derner, Garrett Zans, Mike Seas and Mike Banks finished as UW's top four in all six meets in 2012, while Zans, Derner, Banks and Amos Bowen have claimed UW's top four in all four meets this season.

Youth Movement
As expected, freshmen have been a big part of the Cowgirls' success early this season. Freshmen Megan Brunette and Ali Walker have finished in Wyoming's top five in all three races so far in 2013, including Brunette being UW's second runner on two occasions.

Mind the Gap
The Wyoming men had just a 19-second gap from their first to fifth runner at the Highlander Invite on Oct. 19. It was the second time this season UW had a gap less than 30 seconds, as the other was 22 seconds at the Roy Griak Invite on Sept. 28. UW's previous gap under 30 seconds was at the 2005 NCAA Mountain Regional Meet, when the Cowboys posted a 25-second gap.

A Special Meet for Berryhill
The Highlander Invite at UC Riverside on Oct. 19 was a special meet for Wyoming head coach Bryan Berryhill. Irv Ray, Director of Track and Field/Cross Country at UCR, was Berryhill's coach from 2002 to 2006, while he competed as a professional. Berryhill accomplishments under him included finishing runner-up at the U.S. Championships twice in the 1,500 meters. Ray has over 20 years experience as a head coach and has guided student-athletes to nearly 200 All-America honors.

Page and Zans Collect Mountain West Honors For their efforts on Sept. 13, Page and Zans were named the Mountain West Cross Country Athletes of the Week, the conference office announced on Sept. 17. It was the first time ever UW had won both MW female and male accolades in one week, as Page and Zans earned the honor for the first time in their careers.

Page topped 52 fellow competitors at the Utah Valley Invitational in Orem, Utah, to claim her second career individual title and pace the Cowgirls to their first team title since 2004. The junior finished the 5-kilometer course in 18:03 for her first win since last season's Montana State Invitational. Her time is the second-fastest 5k in the MW this season.

At the time, she has led Wyoming in each of the last eight cross country races, including all of the 2012 season. UW's second finisher had come within Page just three times during that stretch, including the closest of 21 seconds by Audra DeStefano at Utah Valley. Page was the first Cowgirl to earn MW Cross Country AOW since Christine Nelson on Sept. 21, 2010.

Zans claimed the men's individual title in Orem, as his first collegiate win in cross country helped the Cowboys win the team title as well. The senior bested the 46-person field over the 6-kilometer course in a time of 18:08 for the first individual title for a Cowboy since Mark Korir won the 2008 MW Championships. Zans' time was the fourth fastest by a UW runner over a 6-kilometer course since 1990 and was the fastest 6k in the MW at the time.

Wyoming's team title was its first since the first meet of the 2011 season. In 20 career races, Zans had finished in UW's top three in all but one race and had finished in UW's top two in 15. He had led Wyoming in six races during his career. Zans was the first Cowboy to earn MW Cross Country AOW since Mark Korir on Oct. 21, 2008.

Page is a Frontrunner
In her third season at Wyoming, junior Holly Page continues to be one of the top female distance runners. Page has paced the Cowgirls in the last 10 cross country races, including all of the 2012 season, and has won two meets along the way. UW's second finisher has come within 30 seconds of Page just five times, including the closest of 10 seconds by Megan Brunette at the Roy Griak Invite on Sept. 28. Page finished as UW's second runner in her first three career races in 2011 as a freshman.

Zans Always Near the Front
Senior Garrett Zans has consistently been one of Wyoming's top distances runners in his four seasons with the program. In 22 career races, he has finished in UW's top three in all but one race and he has finished in UW's top two in 17. He has led the Cowboys in eight races during his career, including winning the individual title at the Utah Valley Invite on Sept. 13.

From All Corners
The 2013 Cowboy team features runners from all corners of the globe. Two Cowboys are foreign (New Zealand and Kenya), to go with domestic Cowboys from Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida. Six Cowboys on the 11-man squad are from Wyoming.

Next Up
Wyoming continues postseason competition at the 2013 NCAA Mountain Regional, hosted by Weber State on Nov. 15 in Ogden, Utah.

 

 

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