Cross-country teams mixed results at West Region Championships

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A large scoring gap was evident between Dixie State University’s men’s cross-country team and the women’s team.

The cross-country teams traveled up to Billings, Montana, for the NCAA Division II West Region cross-country championships Saturday. The men’s team raced 10-kilometers and improved their overall team placing from last year, going from nineteenth out of 23 the year prior to eighteenth place out of 25 this year with a combined time that was a little over three minutes faster than regionals in 2015.

George Barlow, a senior business major from North Ogden, was the first of DSU’s men to cross the finish line at regionals. He came in seventy-fourth place with a time of 32:22.8.

“I’ve been working my way up to the front this season, so I’m really glad I was able to pull [the first of DSU’s men] off,” Barlow said. “Now that the season’s over, I’m excited to graduate and move on, even though I will miss some things like my team.”

However, the women’s team did not fare as well as the men’s team over the course of the women’s six-kilometer race. DSU’s women ranked 28 out of 30 teams, when they had been 22 out of 28 the year prior. The team was also over four minutes slower this year than at regionals in 2015.

Marieta Wright, a freshman elementary education major from Las Vegas, said she had a positive outlook on the results from regionals.

“It was a good, solid race,” Wright said. “Going into it, I didn’t want to psych myself out with pressure, so I tried to treat it like a long run.”

Wright said part of her race strategy was a running mantra she repeated to herself while she raced.

“Coach said ‘DSU – do it for the team,’” Wright said. “I added my own part to the end of the mantra – every person counts.”

Part of the team’s struggle has come from some of the women falling prey to injuries.

“We lost some of our top girls to injuries before this season, so we have had a very young [women’s] team this season,” said Justin Decker, head cross-country coach. “However, we are looking forward to adding [some of the top girls] back to the roster to bolster the team next year.”

One of the ways the women’s team will become more seasoned is with the initiation of DSU’s track team, Decker said

Decker said he will be the head coach over the track team, which will only be available for women. He said due to Title IX requirements regarding athletics, DSU needs more female athletes before they can extend track to the men.

“We will only be doing long distances events,” Decker said. “Once the track has been replaced, we will look to adding more track events in future years.”

Wright said she is excited for track to start.

“I prefer cross-country because the courses are tough but you feel more rewarded when you finish,” Wright said. “But track lets you tackle one lap at a time and each new lap is a new goal to conquer.”