Griz finish 6th and 9th at Big Sky championships
Nov. 2, 2013
Freshman Reagan Colyer finished 18th in the women's race and redshirt freshman Adam Wollant placed 30th in the men's race to lead Montana to sixth- and ninth-place finishes Saturday at the Big Sky Conference cross country championships in Bozeman.
The women's three-mile and men's five-mile races were held at the Bridger Creek Golf Course.
Weber State edged out Northern Arizona to win its third straight women's championship. Northern Arizona had the top three finishers in the men's race to win its seventh straight title and 24th overall.
Colyer, who ran a 17:43, was Montana's top runner for the third time in the team's last four races. She came through 16 seconds faster than she ran the same course on Sept. 21 at the Montana State Invitational.
Redshirt freshman Sarah Hastings (18:02), second to Colyer for the second straight race, was 35th, redshirt junior Keli Dennehy (18:07) placed 38th, redshirt freshman Lauryn Wate (18:09) finished 41st, and junior Allie Parks (18:12) came in 45th.
Hastings, Wate and Parks were all at least 20 seconds faster over the course than their last trip to Bozeman.
"We were hoping to be a couple of places higher, but the women had a solid day," said coach Collin Fehr. "That we had a pretty good day and still finished sixth speaks to the competitiveness of the conference."
The Grizzlies had a 29-second split between their No. 1 and No. 5 runners, the tightest gap they've had all season and the third-smallest split of the day.
"We had one of the tightest spreads in the field. The ability to run together as a pack has been a strength of ours all season," Fehr said.
"We're excited about that part of the race, because as we continue to move forward, they'll be able to progress together and move up in the field. Right now we're just a little too far back."
Six different schools were represented in the top seven individual finishers, but nobody could beat Weber State freshman Summer Harper, who clocked a 16:54 to give the Wildcats the individual champion for the third straight year.
Montana State's Heather Demorest (17:02) and Sacramento State's Rachel Mitchell (17:06) rounded out the top three.
Weber State placed its top four in the top 10 overall to win the team title with 55 points. Northern Arizona's top finisher was ninth, but the Lumberjacks, who scored 64 points, had all five of their runners come through in 16th place or better to finish second.
The Montana men were led by a pair of first-year runners in Wollant, who ran a 26:09, and freshman Paden Alexander, who finished in 26:40 to place 39th.
"Adam was Mr. Consistent again," Fehr said. "He's just so solid and reliable. He said he felt smooth the whole way and never felt tight."
Redshirt freshman Cody Curtis, who had been in the Grizzlies' top five all season, had to drop out of the race because of an injured Achilles. Curtis's absence played a role in Montana's lower-than-expected team finish.
"I think we were focused, but everything didn't quite come together today like we wanted it to," Fehr said. "We had some guys who it just wasn't there for them today."
The NCAA Mountain Regional, which will be held in two weeks at Ogden, Utah, will give Fehr's athletes a chance to improve on Saturday's performance.
"We're going to leave this one behind us, and we're going to start looking forward to regionals," he said. "The guys were disappointed, but we stressed to them that they now have some fuel on the fire for regionals, and that race has really been our focus this whole season.
"As we move forward over the next couple of years, that's the race we want to shoot for. Not just conference."
Matt McElroy (24:32.2), Brian Shrader (24:32.3) and Nathan Weitz (24:38) gave NAU a 1-2-3 finish, though Southern Utah runners were the next three through, and the Thunderbirds, who scored 39 points to the Lumberjacks' 25, made it a closer race than expected against the No. 2 team in the nation.
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