Pair of freshmen lead Griz in California
Oct. 19, 2013
Alexander finished 56th in the men's eight-kilometer invitational race to lead the Grizzlies to a 13th-place team finish. Colyer was 40th in the women's six-kilometer race, as Montana finished seventh out of 19 Division I schools.
Coaches Vicky Pounds and Collin Fehr had hoped to use the races as a chance for both squads to work on their team tactics. But with 204 runners in the women's invitational race and 193 in the men's, on a narrow course not suited for a big pack, the race turned into more of an individual time trial.
"It felt like NASCAR. It's not the ideal course for that many racers, but we've got young teams, and it's a good experience to be in that kind of race," Pounds said.
"People were going down and running off the side of the trail. It was kind of fend-for-yourself, so we weren't able to execute the plan. But we'll walk away having learned something for sure."
Though Montana couldn't race as a team, the seven runners from the men's team all had eight-kilometer PRs on a flat, sea-level course raced in perfect weather.
Alexander, who ran mostly alone from the start, was 83 seconds faster than he was on the eight-kilometer course at the Montana Invitational two weeks ago. He finished in 24:49.
"Paden lost everybody right away," Pounds said. "It was 200 meters, then the course narrowed quite a bit, so it was a fast start and for the most part we couldn't really keep together. He was on his own, but Paden had a breakthrough race.
"A few of them found each other (during the race), but trying to navigate your way through a large pack on a narrow course made it tough to do anything more than that."
Redshirt freshman Adam Wollant finished 71st in 25:01, a 63-second improvement from two weeks ago. Redshirt sophomore Mark Messmer (25:15) was 90th, redshirt freshman Cody Curtis (25:24) was 104th, and sophomore Matt Barker (25:49), who led the Grizzlies two weeks ago, was 133rd.
"At one point Matt was running off the side of the trail, stepped in a hole and went down, and Cody had to hurdle over him," Pounds said. "Matt got up, but he wasn't able to get his rhythm back and get back into the race."
Colyer led Montana for the second time in four fall races with a time of 21:25, a 59-second improvement over her time at the UM Invitational. Redshirt freshmen Sarah Hastings, 55th in a time of 21:37, and Lauryn Wate, 64th in 21:45, rounded out the Grizzlies' top three.
Redshirt junior Keli Dennehy finished 82nd in a time of 21:55 in her first race since the Carroll Early Bird Open on Sept. 6.
"Keli gutted it out," Pounds said. "It wasn't the easiest race for her, because it's tough to come back after a few weeks off. I have no doubt she'll be back to her top form for conference."
"It was a huge, tight pack during the guys race, and the girls race was like that too," Pounds said. "Carly got pushed into a wooden post at one point, so she was kind of off, too."
Loyola Marymount edged UC Santa Barbara by two points to win the men's race. San Francisco's Eric Causey was the individual winner in a time of 23:39.
Loyola Marymount's Grace Graham-Zamudio, who ran a 20:18, won the women's race by a second over Idaho's Hannah Kiser. She helped the Lions to an easy victory over UC Santa Barbara and Oregon State.
Montana will next compete at the Big Sky Conference championships in two weeks at Bozeman, Mont.
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