Utah State’s Caleb Garnica captures Men’s 8K title at MW Cross Country Championships

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. – With a last-second push near the finish line, Utah State’s Caleb Garnica captured the men’s 8-kilometer race at the 2020 Mountain West Cross Country Championships on Friday morning at the Craig Ranch Regional Park.

Garnica, a junior, crossed the finish line in 23 minutes, 38.4 seconds to edge Air Force’s Sam Gilman (23:39.2). The Aggies had three runners finish in the top five as sophomore Camren Todd placed third (23:41.0) and senior Haydon Cooper took fourth (23:48.5).

“The race went really well,” Garnica said. “We all ran tough and so did Air Force. It was a super close race. The race went out really well and in the end it became a dual against Air Force. I just remember thinking how much I have worked to get here and all the sacrifices I’ve made. I thought the Air Force guy had me, but I mustered just enough to outkick him.”

Utah State, the defending Mountain West champion on the men’s side, finished second with 33 points – just four shy of first-place Air Force. On the women’s side, USU took fourth with 104 points, while New Mexico (29) captured the team title for the 13th consecutive time.

“Today was a really good day,” said Utah State head coach Artie Gulden. “The ladies took a big step forward from last year. They gave a super effort and fought really hard. The men really dueled it out with Air Force and they ended up getting us by a small margin, so congrats to them. But, it looks like our men should be good for an NCAA berth. We will find out on Sunday.”

Garnica gave Utah State back-to-back 8K crowns on the men’s side as Dallin Farnsworth became the first Aggie to ever capture the individual title at the MW Championships. He crossed the finish line in a championship-record time of 21:14.2 in 2019.

For his efforts on Friday, Garnica was tabbed the MW Men’s Student-Athlete of the Year and he earned first-team all-MW honors, as did Todd and Cooper. Sophomore Bridger Altice earned second-team all-league honors after placing eighth with a time of 23:54.4.

“To have four guys achieve all-conference and place in the top eight is special,” Gulden said.

Rounding out the finishers for the Aggies on the men’s side were sophomore Spencer Nelson in 17th (24:17.7), Mark Crandall in 22nd (24:29.6) and Darren Harman in 25th (24:37.5).

On the women’s side, senior Katie Haviland garnered second-team all-league honors by placing eighth in the 6K race with a time of 20:22.1.

“Overall, it was a tough race with really good competition,” Haviland said. “Our girls fought and I am proud of them. We fell a little short of our goal, which is hard to accept, but we have a very young team in a very good field, and we will use this as fuel for next season. We learned a lot from this race and we will continue to look for opportunities during the outdoor track & field season and next cross country season to prove how good we can be.”

Following Haviland, freshman Morgan French was 22nd (20:58.0), sophomore Abby Jensen was 24th (21:03.5), sophomore Bailey Brinkerhoff was 26th (21:05.4), junior Mica Rivera was 29th (21:16.0), sophomore Abigail Gray was 34th (21:22.5), freshman Mattie Geddes was 39th (21:32.9), freshman Sammi Lee was 43rd (21:37.8) and sophomore Reagan Hoopes was 57th (22:24.2).

“Katie ran well,” Gulden said. “I am super proud that she achieved all-conference honors. Our team is really young, but everyone will be back next fall.”

The rescheduled 2020 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships will be held on Monday, March 15, in Stillwater, Okla. The championships will be televised live on ESPNU at 10:30 a.m. (MT).

Fans can follow the Utah State track & field and cross country programs at twitter.com/USUTF_XC, on Facebook at USUTrack and on Instagram at instagram.com/USUTF_XC. Aggies fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.

2020 MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIPS

Craig Ranch Regional Park | North Las Vegas, Nev. | March 5, 2021

Women’s 6K Team Results:
1. New Mexico – 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, (13), (15) – 29
2. Boise State – 3, 5, 12, 14, 18, (20), (22) – 52
3. Colorado State – 9, 11, 17, 19, 28, (29), (30) – 84
4. UTAH STATE – 8, 21, 23, 25, 27, (32), (33) – 104
5. Air Force – 1, 35, 38, 40, 41, (45), (50) – 155
6. Wyoming – 24, 31, 36, 39, 42, (44), (48) – 172
7. Nevada – 16, 26, 34, 47, 51, (52), (53) – 174
8. San Diego State – 37, 43, 46, 49, 54, (55), (56) – 229
9. UNLV – 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, (62), (63) – 295

Women’s Top-Five Finishers: 1. Mahala Norris (AFA) – 19:57.7; 2. Adva Cohen (UNM) – 20:02.3; 3. Tyler Beling (BSU) – 20:09.2; 4. Amelia Mazza Downie (UNM) – 20:11.7; 5. Olivia Johnson (BSU) – 20:13.4.

Utah State Women’s Results: 8. Katie Haviland – 20:22.1; 22. Morgan French – 20:58.0; 24. Abby Jensen – 21:03.5; 26. Bailey Brinkerhoff – 21:05.4; 29. Mica Rivera – 21:16.0; 34. Abigail Gray – 21:22.5; 39. Mattie Geddes – 21:32.9; 43. Sammi Lee – 21:37.8; 57. Reagan Hoopes – 22:24.2.

Men’s 8K Team Results:
1. Air Force – 2, 5, 6, 7, 9 (11), (13) – 29
2. UTAH STATE – 1, 3, 4, 8, 17, (21), (24) – 33
3. Boise State – 12, 15, 18, 20, 22, (28), (34) – 87
4. Colorado State – 14, 16, 19, 29, 31, (35), (37) – 109
5. New Mexico – 10, 26, 27, 33, 36, (40) – 132
6. Wyoming – 23, 25, 30, 38, 39, (41), (43) – 155
7. Nevada – 32, 44, 45, 46, 47, (49), (50) – 214
8. Fresno State – 42, 48, 51, 52, 53 – 246

Men’s Top-Five Finishers: 1. Caleb Garnica (USU) – 23:38.4; 2. Sam Gilman (AFA) – 23:39.2; 3. Camren Todd (USU) – 23:41.0; 4. Haydon Cooper (USU) – 23:48.5; 5. Ryan Johnson (AFA) – 23:49.8.

Utah State Men’s Results: 1. Caleb Garnica – 23:38.4; 3. Camren Todd – 23:41.0; 4. Haydon Cooper – 23:48.5; 8. Bridger Altice – 23:54.4; 17. Spencer Nelson – 24:17.7; 22. Mark Crandall – 24:29.6; 25. Darren Harman – 24:37.5.

MOUNTAIN WEST CROSS COUNTRY POSTSEASON AWARDS
MW Student-Athlete of the Year
Men: Caleb Garnica, Utah State
Women: Mahala Norris, Air Force

MW Freshman of the Year
Men: Luke Combs, Air Force
Women: Moden Engeseath, New Mexico

MW Coach of the Year
Men: Ryan Cole, Air Force
Women: Joe Franklin, New Mexico

MW First-Team All-Conference

Utah State Men: Caleb Garnica, Camren Todd, Haydon Cooper

MW Second-Team All-Conference

Utah State Men: Bridger Altice
Utah State Women: Katie Haviland

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