Utah State women place second for best-ever finish at Mountain West XC Championships

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – All five of the Utah State scoring runners were among the top-19 finishers and senior Katie Haviland placed 10th overall to help lead the 28th-ranked Aggie women to their best-ever finish at the Mountain West Cross Country Championships on Friday morning.

Utah State finished with a team score of 73 points on the UNM North Golf Course to place second ahead of No. 12 Colorado State, which took third with 75 points. New Mexico, the top-ranked team in the nation, captured its 14th-consecutive Mountain West title as the Lobos swept the top-five scoring positions to record a perfect score of 15 points.

“The women ran really well,” said USU head coach Artie Gulden. “They were focused on trying to beat Colorado State and did it. We worked up really well and beat them in the last K.”

Prior to Friday, Utah State’s best-ever finish on the women’s side at the Mountain West Cross Country Championships was in 2017, when the Aggies took third en route to their first-ever appearance at the NCAA Championships.

“The women have all had a chip on our shoulders since Colorado State beat us at the conference meet last year,” Haviland said. “They are a really good team, so to be able to beat them today, especially in the last K of the race is really exciting, and shows how tough our ladies are. Being able to move up that many spots at the end of the race takes a lot of grit and heart.”

In the men’s 8K race, No. 21 Utah State placed third with 79 points, just ahead of No. 19 Colorado State, which was fourth with 80 points. No. 11 Air Force defended its title from last year in dominant fashion as all five of its scoring runners were among the top nine to finish with 27 points. No. 23 Boise State took second with 64 points.

“The men had a rough day,” Gulden said. “We had some guys run really well, but overall, we didn’t put it together as a team. We will regroup and get ready for two weeks from now.”

The individual champion on the men’s side was Boise State’s Dario De Caro. His time of 23 minutes, 26.8 seconds is the second-fastest in MW Championships history, second only to Utah State’s Dallin Farnsworth, who captured the individual title in 2019 (21:14.2). The Lobos’ Amelia Mazza-Downie won the women’s 6K with a time of 19:37.3.

Haviland, who crossed the finish line in 20:05.1 – a personal best for the MW Championships – garnered second-team all-league honors for the second-consecutive year. Fellow senior Mica Rivera also earned second-team all-MW honors as she placed 12th with a time 20:07.7 – her best-ever finish at the conference meet.

Morgan French was the third Aggie runner across the line as the sophomore placed 16th with a time of 20:22.7 – both personals bests for the MW Championships. Juniors Abby Jensen (20th, 20:34.0) and Bailey Brinkerhoff (21st, 20:34.5) also ran their best times and recorded their best-ever finishes at the conference meet.

“I am so proud of the team,” Haviland said. “They really stepped it up today. To be able to make school history is very exciting, especially when I have so much respect for the 2017 team, which was really the last group of women to make such big, historic steps like we are doing now. It gives me a lot of hope for the rest of the season, and I have a feeling we are going to keep making history.”

Chase Leach was the Aggies’ top runner on the men’s side as he placed 12th with a time of 23:50.2 to earn both MW Freshman of the Year and second-team all-league honors. Senior Caleb Garnica, who was the defending champion, also earned second-team all-MW accolades as he placed 14th with a time of 23:54.1.

“As a team, we worked well to pack it up for the first half of the race,” Leach said. “Around 5K into the race, I worked my way up toward the front group and just tried to hang on. I wasn’t thinking about the award before the race, but I was pretty surprised when coach Gulden told me I would be receiving it. Obviously, it’s great to get, but I am just trying to help the team in any way I can.”

Senior Darren Harman ran his best-ever race at the MW Championships as he placed 15th with a time of 24:01.1. Fellow senior Mark Crandall also turned in his best performance at the conference meet, placing 18th with a time of 24:05.2. Rounding out the Aggie scoring runners was grad senior Connor Weaver, who finished 24th with a time of 24:16.7.

The Aggies return to action on Friday, Nov. 12, at the NCAA Mountain Regional Championships at Timpanogos Golf Club in Provo, Utah. The NCAA Championships will take place eight days later on Saturday, Nov. 20, at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Florida.

For more information on the Utah State track & field/cross country programs, follow the Aggies on Twitter at @USUTF_XC, on Facebook at USUTrack and on Instagram at USUTF_XC.

2021 MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIPS

UNM North Golf Course | Albuquerque, New Mexico | October 29, 2021

Women’s 6K Team Results:
1. No. 1 New Mexico – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, (6), (7) – 15

  1. No. 28 UTAH STATE – 10, 11, 15, 18, 19, (26), (31) – 73
  2. No. 12 Colorado State – 8, 13, 16, 17, 21, (22), (27) – 75
  3. Air Force – 14, 20, 23, 25, 32, (35), 36) – 114
  4. Boise State – 12, 29, 30, 33, 37, (38), (42) – 141
  5. Wyoming – 24, 28, 34, 39, 40, (43), (44) – 165
  6. Nevada – 9, 47, 48, 49, 55, (56), (67) – 208
  7. San Diego State – 46, 51, 52, 54, 58, (59), (63) – 261
  8. San José State – 45, 50, 53, 72, 74, (75), (76) – 294
  9. UNLV – 41, 60, 62, 64, 70, (71), (73) – 297
  10. Fresno State – 57, 61, 65, 66, 68, (69) – 317

Women’s Top-Five Finishers: 1. Amelia Mazza-Downie (UNM) – 19:37.3; 2. Emma Heckel (UNM) – 19:37.9; 3. Gracelyn Larkin (UNM) – 19:41.2; 4. Abbe Goldstein (UNM) – 19:44.2; 5. Aliandrea Upshaw (UNM) – 19:46.0.

Utah State Women’s Results: 10. Katie Haviland – 20:05.1; 12. Mica Rivera – 20:07.7; 16. Morgan French – 20:22.7; 20. Abby Jensen – 20:34.0; 21. Bailey Brinkerhoff – 20:34.5; 29. Abigail Gray – 20:45.7; 35. Emma Thornley – 20:53.6; 40. Madison Taylor – 21:03.7; 46. Kaybree Christensen – 21:16.7; 57. Karlee Christensen – 21:40.4.

Men’s 8K Team Results:
1. No. 11 Air Force – 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, (10), (11) – 27

  1. No. 23 Boise State – 1, 8, 15, 18, 22, (25), (28) – 64
  2. No. 21 UTAH STATE – 12, 13, 14, 17, 23, (26), (34) – 79
  3. No. 19 Colorado State – 4, 16, 19, 20, 21, (27), (32) – 80
  4. Wyoming – 29, 31, 33, 36, 37, (42), (46) – 166
  5. Nevada – 24, 30, 35, 39, 40, (47), (48) – 168
  6. New Mexico – 5, 38, 43, 44, 45 – 175
  7. Fresno State – 41, 49, 50, 51, 52, (55) – 243
  8. San José State – 53, 54, 56, 57, 58 – 278

Men’s Top-Five Finishers: 1. Dario De Caro (BSU) – 23:26.8; 2. Sam Gilman (AFA) – 23:31.1; 3. Ryan Ioanidis (AFA) – 23:35.1; 4. Tanner Norman (CSU) – 23:36.0; 5. Abdirizak Ibrahim (UNM) – 23:37.3.

Utah State Men’s Results: 12. Chase Leach – 23:50.2; 14. Caleb Garnica – 23:54.1; 15. Darren Harman – 24:01.1; 18. Mark Crandall – 24:05.2; 24. Connor Weaver – 24:16.7; 28. Bridger Altice – 24:22.2; 37. Walker Cole – 24:37.5; 41. Haydon Cooper – 24:46.0; 55. Camren Todd – 25:11.6; 56. Roberto Porras – 25:12.5.

MOUNTAIN WEST CROSS COUNTRY POSTSEASON AWARDS
MW Athlete of the Year
Men: Dario De Caro, Boise State

Women: Amelia Mazza-Downie, New Mexico

MW Freshman of the Year
Men: Chase Leach, Utah State

Women: Halle Hamilton, Air Force

MW Coach of the Year
Men: Ryan Cole, Air Force

Women: Joe Franklin, New Mexico

MW Second-Team All-Conference

Utah State Men: Chase Leach, Caleb Garnica

Utah State Women: Katie Haviland, Mica Rivera

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