Return top six runners from last season
Jessica Allen | Sports Writer | @Jessdaleallen
Photos courtesy of UVU Athletics
With six returning runners from last years WAC Championship team, the Utah Valley University cross-country running team is ready and prepared to make a run at a 3-peat in the WAC and qualify for Nationals in 2015. The team will be led by a great group of seniors and the top runners from the last two years, Tyson Lambert and Jason Lynch.
Lambert is back and recovered from his unfortunate bout of mono right before last years WAC Championship and Lynch comes back after redshirting a year ago.
Head coach Scott Houle attributes the success of the team to the great student athletes. They succeed in the classroom consistently, which is important because discipline in the classroom equals discipline on the course. The men’s team has a great 1-2 punch with Lambert and Lynch leading the way but Houle also expects to see a lot from returning seniors Trac Norris, Seth Gutzwiller, and Chris Brower. On the girls side make sure to keep and eye out for returning runners Darian Sharp, Jasmine Nesbitt and Harley Murray.
“I expect that our kids are a lot better in a lot of ways,” Houle said. “They were great kids last year both athletically and academically but I think they’ve all learned. They want to be better. They are going to go down fighting. They are mature and they are going to go out and try their best every time.”
Unlike the basketball and soccer programs at UVU, the cross-country team has to work a little harder for team unity. Because cross-country is such an individual sport, the team spends a lot of time together off the course. They build team unity by living together, movie nights, spaghetti nights at Coach Houle’s and even running together through the week when they aren’t at practice. They spend a lot of time talking and bonding on 15-mile runs throughout the week because it draws them closer as a unit.
“I feel like it’s important to [increase unity] in races and with team mates to push them and tell them ‘keep going’ if you pass them in a race,” said Lambert. “Everyone knows and appreciates when you’re doing your best and it feels good when you know everyone is doing their best.”
The team and Coach Houle are excited about the exposure that cross-country has received. With great success comes great exposure and with exposure comes invites to nationally prominent meets such as a Pre-National meet in Louisville, KY or a meet in Santa Clara, CA.
“People know about cross country and track and field at Utah Valley,” said Houle as he begins his 12th year as coach. “When I first got here, no one even knew we had a team. The school has done a great job marketing the successes of the individuals and the team.”
For those who have never been out to watch the two-time defending WAC Champions, the fans need to be prepared to be on the move when checking them out. It’s time to lace up those sneakers and to run to each point to cheer them on as they race to win their third WAC Championship in as many seasons.
“We want to win the WAC Championship, whether we do or not, that is the goal and we feel like we are good enough to always be in contention,” said Coach Houle, “If the opportunity is there for us to win, we are going to take that opportunity.”