Cross Country teams continue to build off of successful 2021-22 campaign

The Wolverines begin the cross country season on September 1 at the UVU Invitational. The Wolverines are coming into the season with many accolades and are well in contention for the WAC title.

Everlyn Kemboi sets the pace (Photo courtesy of UVU Athletics).

The Utah Valley University cross country team opened their season hosting the UVU Invitational on Thursday, at Lakeside Park in Orem. During the invitational the Wolverines compete against BYU, Idaho State, Southern Utah, Salt Lake CC, University of Utah, and Westminster. The women’s team claimed first overall with a perfect score, while the men’s team took second behind BYU.

The UVU Invitational is the first of seven invitationals for the Wolverines before the Western Athletic Confrence Championships and NCAA Mountain Region Championship in late October and early November. 

The women’s cross country team is entering the season as the reigning 2021 WAC champions. For the first time in program history, they are entering the season nationally ranked. Overall, the women’s team enters the season ranked 27th  in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Top 30 preseason poll

The women’s team is also ranked No. 7 in the Mountain Region, while the men’s cross country team is ranked No. 8. The men finished second in the WAC Championships last season. 

Both the men and women’s teams  are entering the season coming off of 10th and 9th place finishes at the 2021 NCAA Mountain Region Championships, respectively.

Out of the eight women’s All-WAC runners from last season, seven of them are returing to the team. The runners returning to the women’s team this season  are: Everyln Kemboi, Caila Odekirk, Mazzie Melaney Preston, and Hannah Branch. All seven of them earned first-team honors and were NCAA Preliminary qualifiers for the outdoor 10k during the track season. Also returning are three-time All-WAC runners Maggie Zwahlen, Zoe Hales, and Taylor Viertel for the second-team honors. 

Meanwhile, the men return two of four All-WAC first-teamers in Habtamu Cheney and 2021 WAC Freshman of the Year in Max Mahon. Austin Hone returns coming in off second-team honors last season and 3,000-meter steeplechase All-American Adam Bunker will compete in his first cross country season.

Following the UVU Invitational, the Wolverines will travel to Pocatello, Idaho for the Idaho State Invitational on September 23. The Wolverines will then travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma the next day to compete in the Cowboy Jamboree. 

On September 30, the Wolverines will travel to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to compete in the Paul Short Run and then come back to Cedar City, Utah for the SUU Color Country Invitational on October 8.

The final stretch of the Wolverines’ schedule consists of travel to Madison, Wisconsin for the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational on October 14. The Wolverines finish their regular season with the Utah Open in Salt Lake City, Utah on October 20.

The postseason includes the WAC Championships in Nacogdoches, Texas on October, 29; the NCAA Mountain Regionals in Albuquerque, New Mexico on November 11; and the NCAA Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma on November 19.
To track their season, you can follow the team’s official Twitter account @UVUxctf.

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