Utah Valley’s men’s and women’s cross-country teams both finished first in last week’s GWC at Montrose Park in Chicago, Ill. For the fourth time in UVU history, the women’s team as well as the men’s team left with a title – their fifth.
The women’s team took home the title with a total 20 points, and Krystal Harper placed second in the 5K with an overall score of 18:04. The men’s team won the title with 19 points and Cliff Nielsen finishing first in the 8K with an overall total of 24:59.
Behind the men’s team finishing with 19 points, NJIT was not a close second with 63 points followed by Houston Baptist with 74 points. For the women’s team finishing with 20 points, Houston Baptist was second with 66 points followed by UTPA with 67 points.
“We’ve convincingly done better than we’ve ever done at the Great West Conference cross-country championships,” Nielsen said. “I was really happy about it.”
Finishing third place last year and 17th two years ago as a freshman, Nielsen ran to take away his very first win at the GWC.
“I went into this race hoping to win because I’ve never won before,” Nielsen said. “I took the lead and just ran with it and won by around 25 seconds.”
After leading the season for the men’s team, Nielsen continues to sprint for what he has worked so hard to do.
“My goal this entire season is to qualify for nationals and our team is trying to place higher than we’ve ever placed,” Nielsen said. “More or less, I need to get in the top twenty to make it to nationals. That’s what I’ve been training all season for.”
With high hopes and confidence, Nielsen strives to take his team to nationals and compete for UVU’s highest rankings in the university’s history.
“Two years ago was our best finish, which was tenth,” Nielsen said. “But this year we are trying to get top 6th or 7th and be the best Utah team in the state that isn’t BYU.”
The Wolverines will continue to close out the season next week at the NCAA Western Regionals in Fort Collins, Colo. As for now, Utah Valley ended their last victorious GWC as they join the WAC for the 2013 season.
Rachel Anderson, assistant sports editor