|Vandals Complete Four-Peat|
SEATTLE—The University of Idaho women’s Cross Country team made history Saturday, becoming the first women’s program in Idaho history to win four consecutive conference championships. The Vandals finished with 25 points on the rain drenched Jefferson Park Golf Course.
Idaho’s women claimed the top spot just ahead of Seattle U by a 23 point margin. Senior Hannah Kiser won her second-straight Western Athletic Conference title and was voted WAC Cross Country Athlete of the Year of the second year in a row. Idaho’s Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Wayne Phipps was named the WAC Women’s Coach of the Year for the sixth time. Freshman Nicholas Boersma ran to a first-place finish in the men’s race and was named the 2013 WAC Freshman of the Year.
“It was obviously pretty strange weather,” Kiser said following the race. “We all came out with a positive attitude. The atmosphere at WAC is just so great. We knew that we had a really strong team so we came in with a lot of confidence and we ran with that confidence.”
Kiser paced the race with a time of 17:25.70. She finished 20 seconds ahead of UMKC’s Courtney Frerichs, who placed second. Fellow senior Holly Stanton Browning trailed Kiser across the finish with a third-place time of 18:04.70. Halie Raudenbush (18:18.80) and Emily Paradis (18:21.40) crossed the finish fifth and sixth, respectively.
Seattle U placed second in the team standings with 48 points. UMKC trailed in third, scoring 83 points. New Mexico State (105), Utah Valley (115), UTPA (165), Grand Canyon (192), CSU Bakersfield (240) and Chicago State (257) completed the women’s standings.
Abby Larson (18:36.70) crossed the windy finish line 10th for the Vandals. Freshman Ally Ginther, just missed out on Freshman of the Year Honors, finishing with a time of 18:44.50. Alex Siemens was the final Idaho Runner to finish with a time of 19:10.30.
“Of course it is exciting for us to win that fourth championship,” Phipps said. “When we look back to three years ago when we won our first one, it was a little unexpected at the time. After that we joked around a bit about winning the first one and that we were going to try to win four. After winning the second one it became a bit more of a reality. Those girls have worked so hard the last few years to make this happen.”
The men’s squad ran its best WAC race since 2007, finishing second with 43 points. Individually Idaho’s Boersma became the Vandals’ first individual conference champion since Vic Dyrgall won the Pacific Coast Conference title in 1941. Boersma finished the 8K course with a time of 25:60.70 to earn his first top-15 finish of the season. Cody Helbling, whose wife gave birth to the couple’s first child on Thursday, finished second with a time of 25:32.30. Helbling was named the Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Year after the race, leading Idaho the entire season. Rounding out the top three was Idaho’s Santos Vargas, who edged out Utah Valley’s Chris Brower, with a photo-finish time of 35:37.90.
“That was a crazy race,” Boersma exclaimed. “This win is for all of us to be honest. It was a great day for us and everyone ran well. To come out with the win was a great way to top it off. “
The newest Vandal father left the course immediately following the awards ceremony to catch a flight at the airport to rejoin his young family.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys.” Phipps commented. “We did not quite pull off the victory but we were very close. Those guys ran very aggressively and to go 1-2-3 it was quite the accomplishment by those guys.”
As is standard in cross country team-scoring the men’s race was decide by the 4th, 5th and sixth-place scorers. Utah Valley grouped together in those positions scoring points as they finished 9th, 13th and 14th to finish with 38 points. Idaho followed second with 43. UMKC (80), Seattle U (111), UTPA (117), New Mexico State (138), Grand Canyon (193) and Chicago State (222) closed out the men’s standings.
In addition to the individual Athlete of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year awards, Kiser, Helblilng and Boersma were first team All-WAC selections, along with Vargas, Stanton Browning, Raudenbush and Paradis. Larson and Ginther were second team All-WAC picks on the women’s side.