Griz conclude cross country season at regional

Mark Messmer had a 50-second improvement on last year's regional time

Mark Messmer had a 50-second improvement on last year's regional time

Nov. 15, 2013

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The Montana cross country teams wrapped up their 2013 season Friday afternoon with 15th- and 16th-place finishes at the NCAA Mountain Regional at Riverdale, Utah.

Freshman Reagan Colyer led the Grizzlies over the six-kilometer women's course, finishing in a time of 21:53 as Montana placed 15th in the 20-team field.

The UM men's team was led by freshman Paden Alexander, who covered the 10-kilometer course in 31:49. Montana finished 16th of the 17 teams racing.

Colorado, with all seven of its runners placing in the top 15, easily won the women's team title, with New Mexico finishing second and claiming the region's other automatic bid to the NCAA championship.

The Colorado men were ranked No. 1 nationally entering the race, but Northern Arizona, ranked No. 2, pulled the mini-upset and won by eight points over the Buffaloes. The teams will race again a week from Saturday at Terre Haute, Ind., with a national title on the line.

"Obviously we weren't out there competing for the trophy, so we had a little different focus," UM coach Collin Fehr said.

"The guys really did a nice job staying engaged in the race, and that can be challenging when the competition is so good. This region is one of the best in the country, so it's hard to stay in the mix when guys are running so fast in front of you."

The Grizzlies ended up running in three packs, with Alexander, redshirt freshman Adam Wollant and redshirt sophomore Mark Messmer working together to lead the way. Alexander finished 78th, Wollant 82nd in 31:57 and Messmer 89th in 32:21.

Alexander finished as the Grizzlies' top runner for the second time this season, Wollant ran in the top two for the sixth time in six fall races, and Messmer took 50 seconds of his regional time from a year ago.

"Something we've been working on through the whole season is working together," Fehr said, "and our top three guys ran together almost the entire race. They did a nice job of working through the race with each other, so that was nice."

Junior Ben Williamson ran alone most of the race and finished 96th in 32:39. Freshman Micah Drew was 108th in 33:52, redshirt freshman Cody Curtis was 111th in 34:14, and sophomore Matt Barker finished 112th in 34:25.

"Micah, Cody and Matt were working together for most of the race as well, and that was neat to see," Fehr said. "Once they lost connection with the main pack, they kind of had to, and they did a good job of that.

"Micah was dealing with some side aches throughout the race, Cody was gutting it out with his Achilles, and Matt has been sick all week, so we had some things working against some of the guys, but even with all that they were still really focused and kept things in perspective."

Texas Tech senior Kenndey Kithuka won the men's race in a time of 29:23.

Colyer led the Montana women for the fourth time in their last five races, and she was trailed closely by redshirt freshman Sarah Hastings, who finished four seconds -- 21:57 -- and seven spots -- 63rd -- behind Colyer. Hastings finished second to Colyer for the third straight race.

Redshirt freshman Lauryn Wate matched her best finish of the season by finishing third on the team and 90th overall in 22:27. Junior Carly Wilczynski, 93rd in 22:30, and redshirt junior Keli Dennehy, 95th in 22:32, rounded out Montana's top five.

"Reagan was a super stud again," Fehr said. "And Sarah and Lauryn have come on strong the last part of the season. They've been working their way up the lineup and were really competitors today. They were engaged and focused, and it was really neat to see that."

Junior Allie Parks finished 102nd in 22:42, junior Heather Fraley was 117th in 23:16.

New Mexico junior Sammy Silva was the winner of the women's race in 20:29.

"I thought our placement on the women's side could have been a little higher if we could have stayed engaged in the pack for longer early on," Fehr said, "but to keep things in perspective, the women weren't competing for the trophy either.

"We wanted to have everyone come across the line and feel like they left it all out there to finish the season. Overall it was positive feelings from the athletes after the race, and we haven't had that all year. We're definitely walking away from it feeling like it was a success."



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