Utah State's men's and women's cross country teams will eagerly await Saturday's announcement of the teams that will participate in the 2017 NCAA Cross Country National Championships. After a strong showing at the regional race, the Aggies look to be in a good position to qualify as teams.
"It looks like we'll go to nationals," said acting head cross country coach Artie Gulden. "We won't know for sure until 1 p.m., tomorrow, but that's what it's looking like right now."
As a team, the Aggie women placed fourth at the NCAA Regional Championships on Friday on the Steve and Dona Reeder Cross Country Course, while the men placed seventh. Individually, seniors Dillon Maggard and Tylee Skinner and juniors Kashley Carter and Alyssa Snyder, all earned all-region honors by finishing in the top-25.
"I feel really good," Maggard said. "I think everyone put in their best, and that's all you can ask for. If we make it, we make it. If we don't, we can't hang our heads. The team's been transforming ever since coach Gulden took charge. The team's improving a lot, and this is just the beginning. In the future, as the program develops, we have a lot of sophomores on the team, so in the future the men's team will make nationals if we don't this year."
For Carter, making the trip to Nationals would help erase the memory of last year, where she just missed the cut to qualify individually.
"It makes it so great being here on our course," Carter said. "It's honestly going to be so much better with the team and doing it for our coach. It broke my heart that I didn't make it last year, but this year is going to be so much better."
The women's team finished strong as a pack. While the top trio earned all-conference honors as Carter placed 11th (20:29.0), Snyder ended in 17th (20:38.2) and Skinner took 19th (20:39.0), the rest of the Aggie qualifiers ran strong together.
"That's awesome," Skinner said. "I didn't know that. That's really exciting. We've really tried to run as a pack this year, and it sounds like we still did it today."
The NCAA National Championship race will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18, and hosted by Louisville at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park with the women running at 8:45 a.m. (MT) and the men at 9:45 a.m. (MT).
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NCAA Mountain Regional Championship
Friday, Nov. 10, 2017
Logan, Utah Men - 10k Women - 6k
Men's Team Results 1. Northern Arizona - 49 2. BYU - 79 3. Colorado - 80 4. Colorado State - 103 5. Air Force - 118 - 7. Utah State - 197
Men's Individual Top Finishers 1. Joe Klecker (CU) - 20:13.6 2. Rory Linkletter (BYU) - 30:14.6 3. Tyler Day (NAU) - 30:16.5 4. Connor McMillan (BYU) - 30:17.3 5. Matthew Baxter (NAU) - 30:18.3
Utah State's Men's Finishers 7. Dillon Maggard - 30:26.4 37. James Withers - 31:21.3 48. Luke Beattie - 31:33.3 52. J.D. Thorne - 31:41.9 53. Adam Hendrickson - 31:42.4 59. Brody Smith - 32:02.1 70. Darren Harman - 32:16.9
Women's Team Results 1. Colorado - 62 2. New Mexico - 70 3. BYU - 113 4. Utah State - 125 5. Utah - 149
Women's Individual Top Finishers 1. Ednah Kurgat (NM) - 20:01.4 2. Grayson Murphy (Utah) - 20:04.0 3. Weini Kelati (NM) - 20:05.5 4. Winny Koech (UTEP) - 20:08.5 5. Charlotte Prouse (NM) - 20:15.3
Utah State Women's Finishers 11. Kashley Carter - 20:29.0 17. Alyssa Snyder - 20:38.2 19. Tylee Skinner - 20:39.0 37. Tori Parkinson - 21:06.9 41. Cierra Simmons - 21:11.0 46. Kelsey Yamauchi-Richins - 21:18.8 60. Tavia Dutson - 21:27.7
Acting Head Cross Country Coach Artie Gulden:
On the women's team performance and having three all-region runners:
"The ladies ran very, very well. I think we tactically did a few things we could improve on. A few of the girls were a little aggressive in terms of going out pretty hard the first two to three kilometers. We paid a little bit of a price the last one or two kilometers for that, but overall to be fourth in the region, the ladies ran very well. Last year, obviously Kashley (Carter) was all-region and this year we have three girls all-region. Placing fourth is fantastic."
On the men's team performance today and what it means in terms of making it to Nationals:
"Our region is very strong on the men's side, the strongest region, but not by far because the west is pretty strong, too. Our guys did what they had to do in terms of finishing seventh and putting themselves in a position to go. Hopefully, nothing screwey goes on in the West Region. They're racing right now. The weather could be a little bit of a factor because they're holding it in Seattle, and so it might be rainy and messy like that. Hopefully, everything goes to projections and both teams are going to nationals next week. The guys ran tough. The guys did what they needed to do, and I'm proud of them."
Senior Dillon Maggard:
On qualifying, at least individually, for Nationals this year:
"It feels really good. I started putting in the miles at the start of the summer until now. All the work paid off. I made it again. We just have to wait and see for the West Region and see how they do. That'll dictate if we qualify as a team."
On what his feelings are regarding the team's chances of making it to nationals:
"I don't know, I hope we make it. I really want to travel with the guys, that makes the experience more enjoyable. We'll have to wait and see."
On if the race was less tactical and more about speed:
"I think this year was more honest. Some of the Northern Arizona guys took control of the race and made it pretty honest. Last year, it was really slow. The times were a lot faster this year."
Senior Tylee Skinner:
On how it feels to make the all-region team:
"Last year, I had a pretty bad race here and a pretty bad end to my season. I remember watching people get their medals and thinking that was never even a possibility for me, so it's pretty cool to think about that."
On being a part of this year's team that is making USU history:
"It's really exciting. It's really awesome. I never would have thought this was a possibility my freshman year. It's really exciting. There's nothing better than seeing the look on our coaches' face."
Junior Kashley Carter:
On improving her time from last year's race to this year:
"It's so good. It's great. But better than that is my team is right here with me right behind me. It made me so excited as I was running that I was hearing my teammates' names being cheered right behind me."
On showing that runners from small high schools can run well in college:
"It means a lot. I think it's awesome, and it's something that we all take pride in that we're just a bunch of Utah and Idaho girls, and a Wyoming girl, and we all are out here doing it and mixing it up with the best and showing that we can do it."
On, if the team makes it to nationals, how it feels to be part of the first USU team to make it:
"It's so awesome. I'm honored, and I couldn't ask for anything more. I'm so proud to be a part of this team, and I'm so happy we're going."
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