Oct. 31, 2013
Logan, Utah -
Utah State's men and women's cross country teams will travel to the Centennial State to compete in their first conference championship meet as a member of the Mountain West Conference at the Eisenhower Blue Course on the campus of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Friday, Nov. 1.
The men's eight-kilometer race will begin at 10 a.m. MT and will be followed by the women's six-kilometer race at 10:45 a.m. MT. Fans can follow the action at the 2013 Mountain West Championships live and for free on the Mountain West Network at http://www.themw.com/#!/watch-live.
USU is in its first season in the Mountain West after eight years as a member of the Western Athletic Conference. In those eight years, the Aggie men collected six conference championships, including five-straight from 2005-09. Additionally, the USU women's team added two titles in 2006 and 2008.
The Utah State women head into the conference meet being slotted fifth in the Mountain West Pre-Championship Coaches' Poll, down one spot from their fourth-place ranking in the second Midseason Coaches' Poll. The Aggie men also dropped down one spot in the rankings, moving from fifth to sixth in the Pre-Championship poll.
"Going into this whole season we've been preparing for a good showing at the conference meet and now we're here running at 7,000 feet and people keep asking me if that will be a factor and it won't for our team. We train at altitude, so we should be fine, and the other teams know going in what the altitude is so they should train for it also," said veteran head coach Gregg Gensel. "What I look forward to is the great competition we'll have at the conference championships. We'll have a lot of great teams there and our athletes will hopefully step up and perform really well. Alex Litzsinger and Tori Parkinson on the women's side and Kyle McKenna and Eric Shellhorn on the men's side are running really well, so I like their chances to perform well and help the team to do the same."
Those four runners have been the main catalysts for the success Utah State has experienced this season. Senior Kyle McKenna kicked off his final season in an Aggie uniform by taking home the men's title at the USU-hosted Aggie Invitational and didn't miss a beat from there. In total, McKenna, a native of Farmington, Utah, has garnered three top-40 finishes, including two finishes inside the top-five. Additionally, the senior has been the top finisher for the Aggies in all four of the races he has competed in this season.
Not far behind McKenna has been junior Eric Shelhorn. The Montrose, Colo. native has collected two top-five finishes as part of three top-50 places on the year.
For the USU women, senior Alex Litzsinger, a native of Pocatello, Idaho, has provided leadership to a young group of runners. Coming of an injury that cut what would have been her senior season short a year ago, Litzsinger has posted two top-five performances, despite struggling through an illness through a portion of the schedule.
The other top performer for the Aggie women this season has been local star true freshman Tori Parkinson. Hailing from Wellsville, Utah, Parkinson began her collegiate career by taking the top-spot in the women's race at the Aggie Invitational. She followed that performance with a sixth-place finish at the Montana State Invitational.
Complete coverage of the 2013 Mountain West Championships will be available on TheMW.com at the 2013 MW Cross Country Championships page at http://www.themw.com/#!/page/championship_c-xc.
Utah State will follow up the conference meet by competing at the 2013 NCAA Mountain Regionals in Riverdale, Utah on Nov. 15.
Fans can follow Utah State Athletics, including USU track & field and cross country, on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/USUAthletics, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/USUAthletics or on Instagram at http://instagram.com/USUAthletics.
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