Cross Country Makes History, Finishes 11th at National Championship

Published: November 20, 2017 | Author: Chanel Barnes | Read Time: 2 minutes

Men's cross country teamThe Southern Utah University men’s cross country team etched history at the NCAA Cross Country National Championship as the Thunderbirds finished No. 11, best finish in school history.

“I feel really good. We’re the 11th best team in the country,” head coach Eric Houle said. “Could we have placed higher? Absolutely. We were not far out of sixth place, but competing at a national championship is a whole different world. To appear here time and time again—it sets the stage for us to keep moving higher and higher.”

Out of just under 350 Division I teams in the Country, the Mid-major Thunderbirds finished above schools like Syracuse, Alabama, Air Force, Virginia, NC State, Old Miss, Virginia Tech, UCLA, Washington, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Texas, and many, many more.

“It’s important to understand that this race is out of about 350 teams. To finish as a small mid-major team as high as we did is pretty cool,” Houle said. “We’re considered a powerhouse. You have to feel good about that.”

Josh Collins led the way for the Thunderbirds with a 50th overall finish for a time of 30:10. Matt Wright finished second for SUU and 76th overall with a time of 30:28. Mike Tate followed right behind Wright at 30:29. Trailing closely behind was Kasey Knevelbaard, crossing the finish line at 30:30.

“Best finish ever, which is awesome to be a part of. We went out there and did what we’ve done all year, and we had a good day,” Collins said. “Coach Houle is an awesome coach. Our finish shows that everything he is doing for the program and for developing us as athletes is working.”

George Espino finished fifth for the Thunderbirds with a time of 30:52. Aidan Reed and Christian Ricketts rounded out the Thunderbirds, finishing with times of 31:09 and 31:24, respectively.

“You hope that a finish like this will help us to attract higher level athletes. That’s always the hope. To know that we are now a powerhouse in the country, it speaks well to the program and to the type of athletes we’re getting,” Houle said. “Hopefully this will open the door to continue to get better recruits and continue to stay in that group of elite teams in this country.”

Top 15 Teams:

  1. Northern Arizona

  2. Portland

  3. BYU

  4. Stanford

  5. Arkansas

  6. Oregon

  7. Iowa State

  8. Colorado

  9. Colorado State

  10. Michigan

  11. Southern Utah

  12. Iona

  13. Syracuse

  14. Alabama

  15. Air Force

For all things SUU cross country follow @SUUTFXC on Twitter and Instagram and like the Southern Utah Track and XC page on Facebook.

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