Utah Cross Country Takes 8th Place Among Stacked Field at the Nuttycombe Invitational


Curtis Lin

University of Utah senior Nicole Griffiths (24) during the Women’s 5K run at the Utah Open in an NCAA Cross Country Meet at Sunnyside Park in Salt Lake City, UT on Friday Oct. 25, 2019.(Photo by Curtis Lin | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Isaac Dunaway, Sports Writer


The University of Utah cross country team returned to the Upper Midwest after a huge win in the Roy Griak Invite three weeks ago to compete in the Nuttycombe Invitational on Friday.

The No. 12 Utes finished eighth out of 36 schools in a very tough pool at the event. Twenty of the top 30 ranked schools in the country competed on Friday. This includes four of the top five ranked teams: No. 1 NC State, No. 2 New Mexico, No. 4 Northern Arizona and No. 5 BYU. 

Previously for the Utes

The Utes finished first in the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 23, both as a team and individually. Emily Venters led the way in St. Paul, winning the race with a time of 20:33.2. Utah had a few weeks to rest up and prepare for this week’s Nuttycombe Invitational.

Nuttycombe Invitational Results

The Utes sent a total of twelve runners to Wisconsin, with eight competing in the 6k championship and four competing in the 6k B race.

Senior Emily Venters continued her hot start to the season for the Utes on Friday, finishing sixth overall in the 6k championship with a 20:02.9, just 0.2 seconds behind fifth place. Junior Simone Plourde came in next for the Utes with a time of 20:16.3, placing her 22nd overall at the event. Plourde’s performance towards the end of the race was impressive to say the least, as she gained 15 spots in the final 2 kilometers. She set a new personal record in the 6k with the effort.

Third and fourth for Utah were Keelah Barger and Ariel Keklak, with times of 20:32.0 and 20:35.7, respectively. This was a busy part of the race, with eleven spots between them despite finishing mere seconds of each other. 

“Keelah Barger was tough for us again today … did a great job being tough and hanging on,” said Utes head coach Kyle Kepler. “Ariel Keklak was our number four today and I thought she ran maybe one of the best races she’s run in a Utah uniform the last couple of years. Really, really tough and ran smart.”

Freshman Erin Vringer finished 171st with a time of 21:21.3 in her second collegiate race for the Utes. Morgan Jensen came in with a time of 21:42.6. Lauren Peterson and Karli Branch finished at 21:49.8 and 21:51.8 respectively, rounding out the Utah lineup in the championship race.

The Utes also sent four runners to the B race in Verona. Kylie Hartnett led the way at 22:01.7, finishing in 51st overall. Maddie Reed finished 66th with a time of 22:13.7. After finishing first among Utah runners earlier this season at the UVU Invitational. Brooke Manson and Claire Rusovick finished with times of 22:34.2 and 22:54.5, respectively. 

Next Up for the Utes

Utah comes home from Wisconsin with a quick turnaround, hosting the Utah Open this upcoming Thursday, Oct. 20, at 1 p.m. MDT. The race will take place at Sunnyside Park and is free for all spectators.


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