Looking to qualify for the NCAA championships, the University of Utah cross country team will compete on Friday, Nov. 10 at the 2017 NCAA Mountain Regionals. The Utes are ranked No. 6 in their region and right beside them in the rankings are the same teams that will be next to them in the box at the start of the race.
“Oddly enough we’re all side by side on the starting grid. I don’t know if that is just a complete coincidence, supposedly the box draw and starting spots are all drawn at random,” said head coach Kyle Kepler. “It won’t be hard to find each other, and I’m sure we’re all keyed in on each other and trying to beat each other.”
Utah needs to finish higher than its current ranking to qualify for nationals, which would send the team to its third straight NCCA championships. Utah will run against Colorado (1), New Mexico (2), Utah State (15), BYU (18) and Northern Arizona (29).
The Utes are relishing this opportunity to show what they are capable of doing at regionals, and they feel they are peaking at the right time of the season with hopes that will result in success on Friday.
“We just have to duplicate what we did at Pac-12’s,” Kepler said. “I think if we can do that we’ll be in a position to get back to the NCAA championships.”
There is still gas left in the tank for Utah, and Amanada Gehrich is confident in the team’s ability to place fourth if they go out with the right mentality.
“I feel like the Pac-12’s is when we started peaking, and usually you can hold your peak for three or four weeks,” Kepler said.”So I feel like we’re right where we want to be.”
If the team doesn’t qualify for the championships, the seniors representing Utah in the race would be competing for the final time of their college career. Although Gehrich is a sophomore, she is keeping her eyes looking ahead as the Utes aren’t ready for their season to be over quite yet.
“It’s kind of crazy — it hasn’t even hit me yet that they’re leaving. They have been a huge part of our team for a long time,” Gehrich said. “We have a really good team, and we should just make the most out of it right now.”
Utah will race in Logan, Utah at the Steve and Dona Reeder Cross Country Course at 10:15 a.m. MT.