Promising start for U cross country team

By By Jason Peterson

By Jason Peterson

The University of Utah women’s cross country team began the 2007 season by taking third place at the Utah State Open in Logan on Friday afternoon.

Freshman Lauren Lewis helped the Utes score 64 points with her fourth-place finish.

The Utes finished behind first-place Weber State and second-place Utah Valley University. Utah State and the University of Idaho rounded out the five-team, 5k-race by taking fourth and fifth.

If last season is any indication, the Utes have a bright future ahead of them under second-year coach Kyle Kepler. In his first year as cross country and track and field coach, Kepler helped athletes achieve numerous personal records in 2006.

Despite the standards set last season, Kepler believes this year’s class can duplicate the feat.

“I’m very optimistic about this season,” Kepler said earlier last week. “This week we will focus on establishing a base and observe what areas still need improvement.”

Third place is a decent start, but Kepler knows there is room to improve for the youthful squad. Seven runners return from last year, including juniors Alyssa Abbott, Chelsea DiGrazia, Rebecca Mackelprang and Stephanie Skoreyko. Three freshmen also join a 2007 team with no seniors.

“You never know what to expect from other teams, but we’re going to run our race and move forward with this program,” Kepler said.

The Utes hope to move forward with a strong finish at this Saturday’s BYU Autumn Classic in Provo at 7 p.m.

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