Cross country team preps for NCAA regionals after All-Conference inductions

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Five people made the All-Conference team this year at the Conference Championship in Hawaii.

Dixie State College’s cross country women’s and men’s teams competed at the Conference Championship on Oct. 20 where the women’s team had three All-Conference champions. Senior Rachel Young made first team and freshmen Brianna Decker and Celeste Gutzman made second team.

The men’s team also had runners make the All-Conference team. Sophomore Rodney Warr made second team and freshman Zach Smith made third. 

The cross country women’s team took fourth place out of 14 teams overall and the men’s team took sixth out of 13 teams overall.

Head coach Justin Decker said he was impressed by how both teams did.

“We’ve never done this well at any conference championship before,” Decker said. “We have a good young team, so we’ll only be able to keep building a strong team.”

Decker said the humidity in Hawaii affected all the running times.

“We only arrived the day before the race, so the runners couldn’t prepare for the humidity,” Decker said. “Every team’s times were slower, but they pushed through.”

Smith said he did pretty well considering the change in climate.

“We had to do three laps on a golf course with a pretty big hill,” Smith said. “But I just kept focusing on trying to catch the person in front of me, especially on that hill.”

Smith said it’s all about mentally preparing yourself for the run.

Decker said prior to this year, Young was the only runner to make All Conference where now three of the five women are freshman All-Conference champions.

“Next we have the NCAA West Regionals here,” Decker said. “We have all week to prepare for the upcoming event.”

Decker said he has high hopes for the women’s team.

“If the girls place in the top five, they will be eligible for Nationals,” Decker said. “Rachel Young has been working really hard to make it to Nationals, and she is one of the top girls to possibly go.”

Decker said he is looking forward to the upcoming race and excited for the years to come.

“We have a great team to build on in the next couple years,” Decker said. “We’re excited for what is to come.”

The cross country teams compete in the NCAA West Regionals Nov. 3 in Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii.