The women’s cross country team is certainly in uncharted territory.
The team is heading into the NCAA Mountain Region Championship meet ranked first, above powerhouses Brigham Young and Colorado, something that has never happened before.
This women’s team has a chance to win the regional meet as well as qualify to run at Nationals.
And they are ready to bring the heat.
“We want to make a statement,” runner Heather Loseke said. “We want to show those teams who have been the bad dogs and beaten everyone before and we want to take that from them and say that they aren’t going to do it anymore.”
The championship meet will be run Saturday in Ogden, Utah, with the women running a 6-kilometer race and the men running 10 kilometers. BYU is ranked second while the CU Buffalos are third. But these two aren’t the only teams that the Rams are going to have to watch out for.
“It’s going to be pretty competitive,” coach Bryan Berryhill said, noting that Texas Tech and Northern Arizona University are also going to be fighting for the top two slots, which allow an automatic berth to the National meet.
Other teams have the opportunity to qualify for nationals based on how many points they have amassed during the season.
Although the women are ready to prove that they are worth their first-place regional ranking and 11th-place national ranking, they do acknowledge that they are going to have to have to run a strong race.
“We have to go in ready to run as a team and ready to run really competitively,” runner Allison Gohl said. “It is definitely going to be some hard competition.”
The women are also hoping the energy from their Mountain West Conference win, which was the first in the program’s history, will help to carry them to another good finish.
“We want to use the momentum from last race and bring that into this race and carry it through,” Gohl said.
Loseke mirrored Gohl’s sentiments but doesn’t want the win to crowd out the team’s focus on this upcoming meet.
“We do use (the conference win) as a very positive thing, but we don’t want to focus on it too much,” Loseke said.
The men’s team has not had the success that the women’s team has enjoyed, but Berryhill wants to see a team effort from them this weekend to help build for the future.
“We are looking for something positive for next year on the cross country side,” he said, adding that many of the men on the team should have successful track seasons because the sport is more fit for middle distance races.
The women’s team knows what victory tastes like and they are ready for another helping of it.
“We have been incredibly happy because what has happened but we aren’t content with what we have accomplished – we want more,” Loseke said.
Cross country beat reporter Anica Wong can be reached at email@example.com