T-Bird harriers ready for conference cross country meets

By SUU Athletic Communications

CEDAR CITY–Both the men’s and women’s squads will be heading to the 55th annual Big Sky Conference Championships in Ogden this Saturday on the Riverside Golf Course.

Two weeks ago the No.12 men competed at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational where the men placed seventh as a team. Mike Tate led they way for the Thunderbirds running the 8K in 24:01.1 for a 18th overall finish. Next in was Kasey Knevelbaard crossing the line 45th in 24:18.6. Matt Wright finished 52nd overall with a time of 24:21.6.

The women placed fourth overall at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational in Sunnyvale, California. SUU’s top finisher was Madison Fruchey, who finished the 6K seventh overall in 20:41.9. Next in was Ashley Tyndall with a time of  21:12.9 for a 26th place finish. Following Tyndall was Maddy Kauffman coming in 32th overall in 21:20.7.

Conference Championships Preview

Southern Utah will be competing against members of the Big Sky Conference including Northern Arizona, Idaho State, Montana State, Northern Colorado and Eastern Washington, among others.

Head coach Eric Houle said he’s looking forward to the Conference Championships on Saturday.

“This meet is going to be enjoyable because it doesn’t matter what you have done in the past, everybody shows up and preforms that day,” Houle said.

The women’s 5K race is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. MT. The women, who are ranked No. 14 in the Mountain Region will face the Northern Arizona women’s squad whom are ranked No. 5 in the Mountain Region and No. 26 in the country. The SUU women will also look to top other regionally ranked teams including No. 10 Montana State and No. 11 Weber State.

Houle said he expects the women’s team to perform well at the meet this weekend.

“If we can get into the top five, that speaks well of us because of who we are redshirting this year,” Houle said.

The women finished third overall last year at the Big Sky Conference Championships behind Northern Arizona and Weber State.

The No. 12 men will be running an 8K set to begin at 11:45 a.m. MT. The men will have tough competition facing No. 1 nationally ranked Northern Arizona. NAU has remained at the top of the national rankings all season and claimed the conference title in 2015.

Houle said they are heading to the conference championships with their strongest men’s team to date.

“Going up against Northern Arizona will be enjoyable for us, if we can keep up with them for a second place finish they could help us to a podium finish at the National Championships,” Houle said.

Last year the Southern Utah men placed second overall, only behind Northern Arizona.

The Southern Utah men last claimed the Big Sky Conference Championship title in 2015.

The Big Sky Conference Championships will be streamed live on Facebook on Weber State’s athletics page www.facebook.com/weberstateathletics. Live results will be provided by RunnerCard at http://bit.ly/2lihgoe



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