For the CSU women’s cross country team, this weekend’s Mountain West Conference Championships will allow it to show the Rams are worth their 12th-place national rank and first-place rank in the conference.
Saturday’s conference championships were originally supposed to take place in San Diego, Calif. Because of massive wildfires in the area, the meet was moved to Albuquerque, N.M. The race will be held at the University of New Mexico North Golf Course. Seven out of the nine girls who are running have raced on the flat, fast course before.
The Rams will have to run well to beat the Brigham Young Cougars, who have taken first place in the Mountain West Conference Championships every year since switching from the Western Athletic Conference in 1998.
But this year, the Cougars are ranked 17th in the nation and second in the conference behind the Rams.
CSU runners April Thomas and Heather Loseke have both seen BYU top the Rams many times in the past. For them, they want this to be the year that is different.
“We want it so bad,” Loseke said. “We want to be the girls’ team that beat BYU.”
And they realize that they have to show their true colors at this meet.
“If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen this weekend,” Thomas said, who has been cross training for the past two weeks because of foot pain but is ready to run on Saturday.
The race is not going to be easy, though. According to coach Bryan Berryhill, the women will have to make a strong showing at the front of the pack in order to hold the Cougars back.
“We need to have a presence in the front,” he said. “We need five girls in the top 12.”
While the women’s team will be in fierce competition for first place, the men will be looking to improve on their fourth-place ranking in the Mountain West.
“We are trying to improve every week and become more consistent,” runner Jeremy Freed said.
BYU is the favorite to take the men’s title, but Berryhill said that there will be a good race for the 2nd -5th place teams.
“We still need to have a big group of men in the middle (of the pack),” Berryhill said.
The women will look to make history on Saturday and as long as the team sticks together, they have a pretty good chance of topping the Cougars.
“The biggest thing is that we have confidence in our team,” Thomas said.
Cross country beat reporter Anica Wong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org