Oct. 26, 2007
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State cross country competes in the Western Athletic Conference Championships on Saturday, Oct. 27, which is being held for the first time in Logan, Utah.
"Anytime you can run in front of your family and friends it helps motivate you to run better," said Utah State head coach Gregg Gensel on having the championships in Logan.
Both the men and women's teams are looking to defend their WAC titles. The men are going for their third straight title, having placed first in 2005 and 2006. The women are looking for their second straight title, after placing first in last year's race.
Utah State men's cross country was selected to repeat as Western Athletic Conference champions in the pre-championship coaches poll conducted Tuesday in Denver. The Aggie women were picked tied for second in the voting.
"It wouldn't surprise me to see the polls play out to what they are," said Utah State Head Coach Gregg Gensel. "We're going to try and change the women's side a little."
The Aggies racked up seven first-place votes and 36 points. Fresno State captured second place with 25 points, receiving one first-place vote. Boise State and Idaho tied for the third spot with 23 points each. With 15 points, San Jose State was voted fifth. Louisiana Tech (13) and New Mexico State (12) followed closely behind in sixth and seventh place, respectively.
"Based on the fact that we've won it the last two years in a row I can understand why the other coaches would vote us to win," Gensel said. "I'm not saying that we don't have a chance to win because we're going to this meet to try and win both the men's and the women's races.
"Certainly there is a target on us," Gensel said. "If we don't show up, we will get beat. I just tell my athletes that we can't control what the other teams do; we can only control what we do. We just need to get out there and take care of business."
Teams competing in the men's 8k race will be Boise State, Fresno State, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State and San Jose State.
Aggie junior Seth Wold, who has been named WAC athlete of the week twice this fall, has led the men throughout the year. He has been one of the team's top finishers in every race this season. At Pre-Nationals earlier this month, he finished 53rd out of 273 runners with a time of 24:06. The men ended up finishing 29th out of 40 teams.
On the women's side, Idaho was selected first with seven-first place votes and 63 overall points. Nevada and Utah State tied for the second spot with one first-place vote and 50 points each. With 43 points, Boise State was selected fourth, followed by Fresno State in fifth place with 35 Points. New Mexico State and San Jose State both received 26 points to tie for the sixth spot. Hawai'i (20) and Louisiana Tech (11) rounded out the polls in eighth and ninth place, respectively.
"It's well deserved; those teams have been running well all year long," Gensel said. "We really haven't had a chance to run against them in any races. I think it's going to be a tough race between the top four teams on the women's side."
Teams competing in the women's 5k race will be Fresno State, Hawai'i, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, New Mexico State and San Jose State.
USU senior Amy Egan has led the women this season. At Pre-Nationals she helped her team place 27th out of 38 teams. Individually, she placed 91st out of 259 runners with a time of 21:37.
"The women's teams are a little more stacked than the men," Gensel said. "We will have a real hard dog fight on our hands. We have to push all the way until the end if we want to win."
In 2006, the men's team finished in first place with 26 points. The women also finished first with a total of 63 points.
Last year for the men, senior Ben Kessen finished fourth in the 8k race, with a time of 25:08. Close behind was fellow Aggie Wold, with a time of 25:13. Two other Aggies, freshman Tony Jones and freshman Aaron Clements also had top ten finishes.
On the women's side, three Aggies finished in the top 10 in the 5k race. Jennifer Twitchell placed fourth with a time of 17:58. Senior Stacy (Lifferth) Dorius finished fifth with a time of 18:00 and Egan placed seventh with a time of 18:07.
This year's races will take place at the American West Heritage Center. The men's 8k race will begin at 9 a.m. and the women's 5k race will begin at 9:45 a.m. Admission is free.
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