University News

First Place Finish Has National Effects for Cross Country Team

Published: September 30, 2014 | Category: Athletics

Flying across the country and beginning the race unranked and unknown to many of the other universities, the Southern Utah University men’s cross country team took the Roy Griak Invitation by storm and left every other university exclaiming, ‘So that’s how fast a Thunderbird flies.’

SUU cross country places first at invitational. Taking home the first place trophy at the Roy Griak Invitation on Saturday, September 27, the men’s cross country team out ran 31 other teams, even top-ranked teams, and finished with a total score of 142, a four-point win over Colorado State.

"This is a major victory for the SUU cross country team," said Eric Houle, head coach, of the men's cross country team. "We are making huge strides not only in the Big Sky Conference but in the national rankings as well. This is the strongest team we've ever had at SUU."

The unranked status of SUU’s men’s cross country didn’t last long, only three days later the team was named No. 22 in nation by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).   

Another byproduct of the weekend’s win was Nate Jewkes, a senior mathematical science major, individually being recognized by the USTFCCCA as the National Athlete of the Week after crossing the line first at the Roy Griak Invitational.

“It was awesome to out run so many of these top competitors and show them we are a team to watch out for,” stated Jewkes.

Jewkes finished the 8k course in 24:45.4, finishing ahead of runners from Texas and Michigan State and picking up the first individual cross country victory of his career for the Thunderbirds and led to the team’s victory.

The women’s cross country team also competed placing 23rd out of 35 teams. Coach Houle said of the team, "The women are learning to run with the best in the country. This is a start of a process to develop these young athletes into strong competitors."

The Thunderbirds now prepare to compete at the Notre Dame Invitational where they will again compete against the top teams in the nation. The race is scheduled for Friday, October 3. 

Photo credit: Eric Houle

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