CLOVIS, Calif. -
Utah State's Kelsey Girardelli made her debut in the finals of the women's 10,000-meter run late Thursday night at the 2018 Mountain West Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and the senior did not disappoint.
Girardelli finished the race in ninth place at 36:21.02, narrowly missing out on scoring a team point for the Aggies.
"Kelsey ran it exactly how we planned it out," said USU head cross country coach/distance coach Artie Gulden. "I told her to lock into a specific pace and trust that even though girls were going to go out well ahead of her that if she kept the pace, then she would reel them in, and she did a fantastic job.
"I think she started off in 13th or 14th and then reeled in a number of girls. For a minute, she was in eighth, and then the Nevada girl just had a little bit too much the last couple of laps, but that was phenomenal."
While she didn't score points for her team, Girardelli's time proved to be good enough to rank sixth all-time in school history.
"I've always had it in me to do the longer-distance races, and I think my coaches could see that, but I obviously had never tried it before," Girardelli said. "I was really glad to have that opportunity. I have always had a goal to be on one of the top-10 lists at Utah State, and to do that in my very last race of my college career was exciting for me. I am so grateful to have been able to run for Utah State, and our coaches are very amazing people."
What was Girardelli's game plan for running the 10k?
"Coach Gulden told me that the first four miles should feel kind of easy and just to keep it at a solid pace, and to be honest, it didn't feel easy, which was kind of a shock to my system," Girardelli said. "I thought, `It looks like I'm working the whole time today.' Then, I hit the 5k, which is usually where my race ends, and I had to do another one and just tried to keep that rhythm going for the next 5k."
On the men's side, sophomore Luke Beattie placed sixth in the 10,000m with a time of 29:59.23, while junior James Withers finished ninth with a time of 30:42.31.
A trio of Aggies wrapped up competition in the women's heptathlon on Thursday at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Freshman Talie Bonds tallied two points for Utah State in the team standings as she finished seventh with a personal-best 5,049 points. Sophomore Niki Xydona tacked on another point with an eighth-place finish, tallying a career-high 4,962 points.
Bonds' 5,049 points in the heptathlon ranks seventh all-time in school history, while Xydona's 4,962 points is good enough for ninth in program history.
"Talie had a huge PR in the heptathlon and getting over that 5,000-points mark is a huge milestone, especially for a freshman," said Utah State multi-events/jumps coach Erik Rasmussen. "Niki has battled all year long to get herself into position to score at conference, and she got us one point so far. Hopefully, we'll pick up some more points from those girls this weekend."
Junior Alyssa Hirschi finished 10th in the heptathlon with 4,633 points.
"It was an overall awesome performance from all three women, considering the circumstances," Rasmussen said. "They still have other events to do at conference and I am looking forward to that, but I am really pleased with how they performed today."
All three women recorded personal bests in the javelin. Xydona placed third in the event with a mark of 39.58m (129-10), Hirschi captured seventh with a mark of 31.88m (104-07) and Bonds finished ninth with a throw of 29.85m (97-11).
"Niki has always been a really good javelin thrower and she is finally starting to put it all back together again," Rasmussen said. "All three girls PR'd in the javelin and we had solid performances in the other events. I am happy with how we did."
Besides the javelin, the long jump and 800-meter run were the two other events that concluded the heptathlon on Thursday.
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MOUNTAIN WEST OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
VETERANS MEMORIAL STADIUM
MAY 10, 2018
1. New Mexico - 24
2. Boise State - 15
3. Fresno State - 10
4. San Jose State - 8
T5. Colorado State - 5
T5. UNLV - 5
T7. San Diego State - 4
T7. Nevada - 4
9. UTAH STATE - 3
1. Colorado State - 36
2. Air Force - 27
3. New Mexico - 10
4. UTAH STATE - 3
5. Wyoming - 1
USU WOMEN RESULTS:
Heptathlon (finals) - 7. Talie Bonds, 5,049 points; 8. Niki Xydona, 4,962 points; 10. Alyssa Hirschi, 4,633 points.
Heptathlon Long Jump - 4. Niki Xydona, 5.57m (18-03.25); 8. Talie Bonds, 5.42m (17.09-50); 11. Alyssa Hirschi, 5.12m (16-09.75).
Heptathlon Javelin - 3. Niki Xydona, 39.58m (129-10); 7. Alyssa Hirschi, 31.88m (104-07); 9. Talie Bonds, 29.85m (97-11).
Heptathlon 800m - 7. Alyssa Hirschi, 2:25.61; 9. Talie Bonds, 2:32.26; 11. Niki Xydona, 2:36.76. 10,000m (finals) - 9. Kelsey Girardelli, 36:21.02.
USU MEN RESULTS:
10,000m - 6. Luke Beattie, 29:59.23; 9. James Withers, 30:42.31.
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