The Weber State women's cross country team won their first ever NCAA Mountain Region title Friday and qualified for the NCAA Championships. The WSU men's team had a strong performance to finish fifth overall at the meet in Fort Collins, Colorado.
The Wildcat women's team was ranked first in the Mountain region and 13th in the nation heading into the meet and backed that up with a strong performance. WSU finished with 63 points defeating second-place New Mexico by 32 points. Colorado was third followed by Southern Utah and Colorado State. The top two teams at the region meet automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Junior Amber Henry, the two-time Big Sky Champion, finished third overall in the meet to lead the Wildcats. The Mountain View, Wyoming native finished with a time of 20:18.4 on the 6K course, missing second place by less than one second. Henry has led the Wildcats in every meet this season.
Senior Sarah Callister finished eighth overall with a time of 20:45.1, followed by Taylor Thornley who was 13th at 21:01.0. Freshman Jamie Stokes took 17th with a time of 21:07.4 and Laken Hintze was 22nd at 21:11.8. All five of those Wildcats earned All-Region honors.
Kayla Blackford was WSU's sixth runner at 21:39.9, finishing 34th overall and Suzanna Cressall was 51st with a time of 21:54.4.
"We ran a great race and I'm really pleased with our whole team's performance," said WSU head coach Paul Pilkington, the 2012 Big Sky Coach of the Year. "This was the first meet all season that all seven of our runners had great races. Across the board they all ran great and it's a great accomplishment to win the region title. Now we will gear up for the NCAA meet."
The Wildcats will now compete at the NCAA Championships for the second-straight year. The meet will be held Nov. 17 in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Wildcat men's team was ranked ninth in the region poll entering the meet but the Wildcats put together a strong performance to finish fifth overall. WSU totaled 196 points at the meet, which included four nationally ranked teams. Northern Arizona took first place followed by BYU, Colorado and New Mexico, who are all nationally ranked and all expected to qualify for the NCAA meet.
Senior John Coyle once again led the Wildcats and finished 17th overall to earn All-Region honors. Coyle posted a time of 30:33.0 on the 10K course and just missed qualifying for the national meet on an individual basis. He has led the Wildcats in every meet this season.
Jason Nance was WSU's second runner with a time of 30:58.6, just missing earning All-Region honors. Trevor Ricks came in 30th at 31:00.8, Mike Hardy was 60th with a time of 31:57.1 and Tip Worob was 61st at 31:59.9. Tyler Robinson finished 71st and Brett Lechtenberg took 105th overall.
"Our men's team ran a great race and really performed well," Pilkington said. "For our team to finish fifth in this meet is a great accomplishment."