Cross country team brings 3 of top 10 titles home from Desert Invitational

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The Dixie State College cross country team came back with successful titles after the University of North Las Vegas Desert Invitational this weekend.

Dixie State senior Rachel Young brought home the first place trophy with the time of 19:12 in the 5K race.  Young beat the second place runner, UNLV’s Lauren Peterson, by 26 seconds. 

Sophomore Rodney Warr finished the weekend in second place with a time of 26:30.4 in the 8K race and outran Brandon Kocmoud of Grand Canyon by 1.5 seconds. 

Freshman Zach Smith placed fourth at 27:03.6, and freshman Dawson Flake finished eighth at 27:42.7. For the women, freshman Brianna Decker crossed the finish line in third place at 19:48, and freshman Celeste Gutzman finished in eighth place at 20:03.

Overall, the men took second place, and the women took third. 

Times were slower during this meet due to the soft dirt and sand, but three of the top 10 runners in each race came home to St. George. 

Smith, a general education major from West Jordan, said it was a successful trip considering the break the team has had.

“We’ve been training really hard because we haven’t had a race for the past three weeks, so we did that and it paid off,” Smith said. 

Smith said he enjoyed seeing his teammates succeed.

“My favorite part was seeing how much improvement me and the others on the team have made since the first meet,” Smith said. “All of our times were faster than before.”

The next race will be Oct. 6 at the Southern Utah Color Country Invitational in Cedar City. This race is hosted by Southern Utah University, and it will take place at the Cedar Ridge Golf Course where the women will compete in a 4K, and the men with compete in a 6K race. 

Head coach Justin Decker said this next race will help the team prepare for competition in the close future.

“It’s our last race before conference so it’ll be good to get us ready for that,” Decker said. “The other teams there are usually pretty good, so it will be some tough competition for us.”

The races are shorter in this meet because Southern Utah’s head coach, Eric Houle, is looking ahead to the longer races his runners have to endure.

The men start at 9 a.m. and the women start 9:45 a.m.

Decker said he has high expectations for the Conference meet.

“We’re hoping for the women to place in the top three in the top 14 teams in the conference, so that’s our goal—we want to be up there in the top three,” Decker said. “The men should be top five in the conference.”

Decker said although the team is young, it is learning fast and has been successful so far.

“Our team is still really young,” Decker said. “The majority of the team is freshmen with a couple sophomores and Rachel is the only senior we have. She’s a good leader for the team, but the team is still really young. But it’s been really good to see the improvement of those who’ve come along and they just keep getting better. They have control of the future if they keep working hard.”