Utah cross country heads to Fort Collins, Colo., for NCAA Mountain Region meet.
Nov. 6, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY- The University of Utah women’s cross country team gears up for the NCAA Mountain Regional on Friday. The six-kilometer race will be held at the Collindale Golf Course in Fort Collins, Colo., and is slated to begin at 12 p.m. MT.
“The Mountain Region features some really good teams and individuals this year,” Utah head coach Kyle Kepler said. “They include two conference champions, a conference runner-up, and three teams ranked in the top-24 of the country. Of course, we competed with six nationally-ranked teams at the Pac-12 Conference Championships, so our athletes are familiar with this level of competition.”
Leading the Utes will be senior Amanda Mergaert. Coming off a sixth-place performance at the Pac-12 Championships, Mergaert is looking to qualify the NCAA Cross Country Championships for the third consecutive time.
Filling the second and third spots for the team will be Susannah Hurst and Giselle Slotboom. In her first Pac-12 Championships appearance, Slotboom completed the final 5,000m of the race in heroic fashion, running with only one shoe to finish 39th. Hurst has been solid for the Utes all season and is looking to qualify for her first NCAA Championships.
The fourth and fifth spots will be a competitive battle for the Utes. Having three runners that are capable of filling those spots, the coaches know the competition will help all of the athletes perform better, helping the team overall. Andrea Chavez, Katelyn Stringfellow, and Nikki Rietz have posted solid performances all season and are looking to have a breakout performance on Friday.
The competition will be tough for the Utes. Slated to compete is No.13 Weber State, No.17 New Mexico, and No.24 Colorado.
“We would like to finish in the top three at the NCAA Region meet and give ourselves an opportunity to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships,” Kepler said. “I would say there are about five to six teams who could finish in that third spot, so it will require us to run a near perfect race. I definitely think we are ahead of where we were a year ago. However, we need to continue to close our one to five scoring gap.”