First-ever WAC title for UVU

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Men’s cross country captured Utah Valley University’s first Western Athletic Conference championship Nov. 2 in Seattle.

“It was fun. The WAC did a great job and created a really good atmosphere,” head coach Scott Houle said. “Our men really had a great race. They came out and took the responsibility of representing UVU well.”

The win for Utah Valley didn’t come easy. Chuk Mitchell had to withdraw from the race early with an injury, which limited the Wolverines chances. However, runners Chris Brower and Jason Lynch played a key role in the victory by placing fourth and fifth.

“The depth is really what saved us. The guys stepping up and filling that void after Chuk had to pull out of the race shows the need for having a deeper team in a big race like this,” said Houle.

Brower had a time of 25:37.9, Lynch finished at 25:40.1, Josh Monsoon was behind him at 25:42.2 and Seth Gutzwiller rounded out the Wolverines in the top 10 with a time of 25:53.9 in the 8K run. All four runners were named to the All-Conference First Team.

The women’s team took fifth place. Darian Sharp lead the Wolverines in the 5K run with a time of 18:41.5, good for 11th overall, and Brooke Hodson-Davies placed 19th with a time of 19:05.3. The women struggled at times, but they have a plan in action to overcome the hurdles that faced the team. The Wolverines have had a winning season each of the past five years. This was the first time during that span that the women’s team didn’t win the conference championship.

“Darian had a good race but overall this was probably one of the toughest performances the girls have gone through,” Houle said. “We’ll make some adjustments and get on track for the regionals. Losing Jessica hurt. She’s a big element to our team, and that really took a shot out of us.”

Coach Houle was named the men’s Coach of the Year. The award is the 10th of his career. He previously coached both the men’s and women’s team in the Great West Conference and won nine such awards in five years.

UVU was predicted to win the WAC men’s cross-country championship by the nine league coaches at the conclusion of the regular season. After the Wolverines’ men’s team was picked first, the women’s team came third in votes. The men’s team had six first-place votes receiving 48 points, with the women’s team receiving 50 points.

Trac Norris and Hodson-Davies both received the Perry Homes Scholar Athletes of the Month for October. The honor distinguishes student-athletes around the nation for their academic and athletic prowess. In addition, both are also up for the Scholar Athlete of the Year award that will be given at the annual Wolverine Club awards ceremony.

The Wolverines compete for Nationals at the Mountain Region Championships Nov. 15 in Ogden.