Brigham Flint, Assistant Sports Editor
With fall sports now underway, UVU’s cross country team is getting ready to dominate. On Sept. 1, both the men’s and women’s teams will be kicking off their season with a meet in front of their home crowd, the UVU Invitational. This will be the first of many exciting races to look forward to this year.
The team has had a history of winning. In his first 13 years as a head coach, Coach Scott Houle has guided both the men’s and women’s teams to 8 conference championship victories. Even after switching to the Western Athletic Conference a few years back, they have continued to see success.
“We are usually the favorite,” said assistant coach Tim Rowberry, referring to the team’s shot at taking the title this year. “That is our expectation for the team.”
Despite a fantastic effort in 2017 that included a victory at the UVU Invitational, the men’s and women’s cross country teams came up just short in the conference championships, both losing on a tiebreaker. The strongest showing on the men’s side came from Tyson Lambert, who finished second overall and qualified for the national championship. Savannah Branch led the women with a 5K time of 17:11 and third place finish. Unfortunately, both Lambert and Branch were seniors last season and have left the team with big shoes to fill. Rowberry will be “looking to see who steps it up this year”.
The women’s team will particularly be affected, where three of their top five finishers at the WAC Championships will not be returning. Still, the team and the coaches remain optimistic.
“We brought in a big class with a lot of talent,” said Rowberry. “We have solid returners but are expecting many of our top runners to be new athletes.”
With the UVU Invitational so close, it won’t be long before UVU gets a preview how the remainder of the season will play out. It’s not hard to see that the team will continue to perform at a high level, and will certainly be a leading contender to take the conference title in 2018.