Kyle Kepler--Utah
©Jim Kirby

Moreno Helps Utes Shock the XC World!

Trina Moreno-Urbandale-Utah ©Utes Athletics

Trina Moreno-Urbandale-Utah
©Utes Athletics

After taking just under a month off from racing, the Utah women’s cross country team had a historic day at the 64th annual Joe Piane Invitational on Friday where the Utes took home the team title in one of the program’s best races of all-time.

Courtesy Utes Athletics, click here! Feature photo: Kyle Kepler–Utah©Jim Kirby

In a tight race, Utah battled against the top-ranked team in the nation, Colorado, throughout the race and ultimately was able to come out victorious upsetting Colorado by six points (110-116) at the Burke Golf Course. Utah’s scoring runners placed 11-16-19-27-37 to outscore Colorado’s runners that placed 10-12-20-21-53. In a stacked field, the Utes proved that they could compete with the nation’s best and beat out 11 teams ranked inside the top-30 of the USTFCCCA National Coaches’ poll, which also included five teams inside the top-10.

“Honestly, it was very impressive and it’s awesome to win any meet, let alone a meet of this stature,” said Utah head coach Kyle Kepler. “Our kids got out, they were impressive, really ran it well and hung on to bring home the victory.”

Kepler continued, “Certainly, I am very proud of this group. They have believed in each other all season, they’ve come together and it’s just been a pleasure to coach these gals. There is still a lot of season in front of us, but we’re certainly very excited and it’s a great way to start by winning a meet like this one.”

It was a total team effort for Utah on Friday with five scoring runners placing inside the top-40 of the 168 athletes that competed. With six of Utah’s seven competitors running in their first race of the season, the fresh legs were on display as all were able to record new PR’s to push the Utes to the top. Junior Bella Williams had a stellar performance and led the way finishing in 11th with a huge PR time of 16:31.69.

Senior Poppy Tank didn’t waste any time after not competing last season, finishing in 16th overall and second for the Utes in a time of 16:41.53. Senior Sarah Feeny finished three places behind Tank in 19th at 16:42.50. Rounding out the five scorers for Utah were sophomores Cara Woolnough (16:51.58) and Scarlet Dale (16:57.79) placing 27th and 37th, respectively.

Rounding out the Utah runners in the blue race, junior Trina Moreno returned to action for Utah and finished in 90th place (17:28.45) after not competing during the 2018 cross country season, while junior Emma Christensen earned 106th (17:36.84) and senior Sarah Newton completed Utah’s entries in 149th (18:01.81).

#17 Florida State finished in third place (129), #8 North Carolina State in fourth place (139), while #6 Washington (144) rounded out the top five teams.

Utah Runners | 5K (Blue Race)
11. Bella Williams – 16:31.69
16. Poppy Tank – 16:41.53
19. Sarah Feeny – 16:42.50
27. Cara Woolnough – 16:51.58
37. Scarlet Dale – 16:57.79
90. Trina Moreno – 17:28.45
106. Emma Christensen – 17:36.84
149. Sarah Newton – 18:01.81

Top 10 Teams (Blue Race)
1. Utah (RV) – 110
2. #1 Colorado – 116
3. #17 Florida State – 129
4. # 8 North Carolina State – 139
5. #6 Washington – 144
6. #9 Wisconsin – 157
7. #2 New Mexico – 181
8. #12 Notre Dame (Host) – 244
9. #29 Minnesota – 265
10. #14 Ole Miss – 288

The Utes also had seven student-athletes run in the women’s open 5K. Two Utes headed the charge in the open race, led by sophomore Kennedy Powell recording 18th overall with a time of 17.53.20. Just behind Powell, freshman Ellie Lundgreen placed 19th with a time of 17.53.34.

Sophomore Brooke Manson notched a time of 18:07.46 to finish in 29th place, while freshman Grace Burnett crossed the finish line in 18:11.86 to earn 33rd overall. Sophomore Sara Leonard finished in 38th (18:21.31), senior Jade Mulveynotched 43rd place (18:30.13), while freshman Karli Branch placed 60th (18:49.97) to round out Utah’s runners in the open race.

In a field of 130 runners, Utah’s seven placed in the top-60 finishers and all except Leonard clocked in with new PR’s.

Utah cross country will be back in action next Saturday, Oct. 12 when the team heads to the Color Country Invitational. Hosted by Southern Utah, the meet will take place in Cedar City, Utah. Fans can follow the Utah cross country program on Twitter (@Utah_trackfield), Facebook (UtahTrackXC) and on Instagram (@UtahTrackXC).