Utah Cross Country Looking Ahead to Pac-12 Championships Following Utah Open


Curtis Lin

The University of Utah Cross Country Team 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


It was a beautiful day at Sunnyside Park on Thursday afternoon, as the University of Utah hosted the annual Utah Open. Joining the Utes in the race were Utah State, Utah Valley, Salt Lake Community College and unattached runners.

The Season So Far

It’s been nothing short of a tremendous season for Utah cross country so far. After opening the season at the UVU Invitational in Orem, the Utes won the Roy Griak Invite on Sept. 23. Emily Venters led the way that day in St. Paul, finishing first overall. Utah then participated in the Nuttycombe Invitational last week. The Utes finished eighth among an incredibly stacked field.

The Utes are No. 10 in the national rankings, cracking the top 10 for the first time this season. Despite this, Utah is No. 4 in the Mountain Region rankings, showing just how competitive the region is. 

Utah Open Lineup

Utah head coach Kyle Kepler sent a lineup of seven runners to the Utah Open. Seniors Ellie Lundgreen and Grace Burnett both ran on Thursday after previously dealing with injuries. Brooke Manson and Claire Rusovick raced for the second time in less than a week. Both competed in the B race at the Nuttycombe Invitational last Friday. Maren Busath, Caroline Fischer and Chloe Kockler rounded out Coach Kepler’s group. Freshman Bri Rinn also ran as an unattached runner in her first unofficial college race.

“Today I think for everybody involved, it’s more of a developmental race … Today was for a couple gals who are more middle-distance oriented gals in Maren and Bri who ran unattached.” Kepler said. “For Ellie and Grace, they just haven’t raced in a while … They’ve been dealing with some injury issues so it’s just nice to get them back on the course and dip their toes back in the water, so to speak.”

Utah Open Results

It was Ellie Lundgreen leading the way for the Utes today, finishing 22nd overall at the event with a time of 20:22.3. Grace Burnett, making her season debut, and Maren Busath were not far behind. They came in at 20:30.1 and 20:34.8, respectively. Utah freshman Bri Rinn finished at 20:10.00 as an unattached runner. 

“I really thought they competed well … Ellie and Grace as freshmen competed on our Pac-12 team and Ellie was on our NCAA championship team that year. The talent’s there,” Kepler said. “We’ve got to continue to fight to stay healthy. That’s sometimes easier said than done but a nice day for them.”

A Look Ahead

Championship season is coming up for the Utes, starting with the Pac-12 Championships next week. Utah will travel to Riverside, California on Friday, Oct. 28 for the conference championships. That will take place at 9:40 a.m.

“The challenges in front of us will be immense,” Coach Kepler said. “The Pac-12 meet is just going to be an absolute brawl. We’re in the middle of that and that’s all you can ask for.”


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