Go Utes!
Go Utes!
Bye Week Gives Utes Chance to Prepare for First Big Test

Amanda Mergaert will make her season debut at Stanford Invite.

Amanda Mergaert will make her season debut at Stanford Invite.

Sept. 25, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY- Coming off a bye week, the University of Utah women’s cross country team is ready for the first big challenge of the season, as it heads to compete at the six-kilometer Stanford Invitational on Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif. The Utes are slated to race at the Stanford University Golf Course beginning at 10:30 a.m. PT.                                         

“This will be our first big test of the year,” Utah head coach Kyle Kepler said. “If we can have a great week of training and focus on what we do, we can better our top-four team finish from a year ago. Like most teams, we will be running our first race at six kilometers. So we will need to be mentally tough in the middle of the race. We are all anxious to put our full team in a race for the first time this year.” 

Senior Amanda Mergaert will make her season debut on Saturday. The three-time NCAA Championships qualifier will surely provide a boost for the team, as the Utes are set to compete against eight-regionally ranked teams. Mergaert has qualified for the previous two NCAA Cross Country Championships and finished fourth last season at the Stanford Invitational. 

Coming off her fifth-place performance at the Montana State Invitational, sophomore Giselle Slotboom will strive to fill the shoes left behind by the graduation of Alyssa Abbott. Between Slotboom and sophomore Susannah Hurst, the Utes have a strong top-three threat. 

“This is one of the best teams that I have ever had in regard to overall team chemistry,” Kepler said. “They are positive at every practice and work hard for each other. We have to continue to better understand pace and energy management. We did a much better job of breaking up the race into parts at Montana State. Our gap control must also improve. If people want to pass us, than we have to make sure they earn it.”



The Utes have their work cut out as they strive to improve on their fourth-place team finish a year ago. In 2011, Utah had four runners finish in the top 37 spots, which paved the way for the team to finish fourth. Mergaert and Hurst will be returning from that group, as well as the possibility of junior Rebekah Winterton, who is trying to recover from an injury and make her season debut this Saturday.

The field at the Stanford Invitational will be tough with several ranked teams in their respective regions are slated to compete. Some of the teams set to compete are Stanford, Baylor, Cal Poly, North Dakota State, San Francisco, UC Davis, California, and Loyola. 

Utah.edu Pac-12 Utah Utah Sports Properties