Utah State Men's Cross Country Takes Title At WAC Championships, Women Finish Second
Oct. 31, 2009
RENO, Nev. - Utah State men's cross country team won the 2009 Western Athletic Championships Saturday for the fifth-straight year. Sophomore Brian McKenna was named WAC Athlete of the Year for tabbing first-place overall. The Aggie women finished in second place behind New Mexico State.
"Brian ran a really great race," USU veteran head coach Gregg Gensel said. "He did a great job and stayed with Erick (Garcia of Fresno State) and then was able to pull away right at the perfect time."
McKenna has been the Aggies' top finisher in every race thus far this season and culminating with the athlete of the year honor and a first-place finish in the 8k course in 26:00.1. McKenna was also named to first-team all-WAC.
Following close behind McKenna was sophomore Daniel Howell (26:04.4), finishing in third-place overall and earning first-team all-WAC accolades.
"We had six men named to the all-WAC team, and that is a great accomplishment." Gensel said.
The Aggie men all finished in the top 25 runners of the race with senior Steve Strickland tabbing sixth and first-team all-WAC honors as he clocked in at 26:34.5. Junior Nick Bolinder (26:36.8) took seventh and was also named first-team all-WAC. Sophomore Steve Atkinson (26:39.0) was eighth and earned second-team all-WAC honors along with senior Jason Holt (26:51.8) who finished 12th. Junior Chio Lopez (27:15.4) finished 18th overall. Juniors Eric Larson (27:20.9) and Casey Snider (27:35.9) rounded out the Aggie finishers tabbing 19th and 23rd, respectively.
"The course was really hard, but as a team we just kept pushing," McKenna said. "It felt really good to win today, but our team worked really hard too."
Utah State took first with 25 points, while Fresno State came in second with 67 points and Boise State followed close behind with 69 points. In fourth place was New Mexico State (87 points) followed by Idaho in fifth (123 points) and San Jose State in sixth (190 points). Louisiana Tech (208 points) finished in seventh-place was.
Leading for the Aggie women was sophomore Jessie Chugg who finished the 5k course in 19:34.5, tabbing fourth-place overall and first-team all-WAC honors. The next USU finisher was junior Alicia Holt, clocking in at 20:06.6 in 13th place earning second-team all-WAC honors. Freshman Alex Litzsinger (20:13.9) took 16th, and freshman Kaylee Campbell (20:23.1) finished 18th. Juniors Kim Quinn (20:23.8) and Justine Baugh (20:27.7) finished 19th and 23rd, respectively. Freshman Amber Rasmussen (20:55.9) placed 25th, and fellow Aggie freshman Stephanie Burt (20:59.6) was 38th. Rounding out the Aggie finishers was senior Erin Stratton (21:02.0) in 39th place.
"I can't say enough great things about our women's team." Gensel said. "New Mexico State is a really good team, and they worked really hard today."
On the women's side, New Mexico State took the title with 29 points, while Utah State followed with 70 points. Nevada took third with 76 points, and Idaho followed with 99 points. Fresno (135 points) finished fifth, followed by Boise State (151 points) in sixth and Hawai`i (170 points) in seventh. San Jose State (216 points) finished eighth, and Louisiana Tech was ninth (295 points).
"No one left anything out on the course today. I'm really proud of that." Gensel finished.
Gensel earned WAC Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year honors. It is the fifth time Gensel has earned the honor in the WAC and the eighth time in his career.
The men's streak of five-straight titles is the longest since former WAC member UTEP captured the title from 1973-83. It is also the longest streak of any current WAC member. The five total titles is the third-most ever, as UTEP won 17 total titles, and BYU won seven.
The Aggies next competition will be the NCAA Mountain Regionals in Albuquerque, N.M. on Saturday, Nov. 14.
WAC Championships Reno, Nev. Hosted by Nevada