August 31, 2019
The season began for the University of Utah cross country team on Saturday morning with a third-place finish at the UVU invite in Orem.
“I was really pleased with our effort today. I thought we ran hard, competed well, ran smart and obviously, we held out our top kids but our three true freshmen led us and that was really phenomenal to see,” said head coach Kyle Kepler. “I’m really proud of those gals, they ran really hard on a fairly challenging course that kind of keeps you going up or down the whole time so I thought for their first college experience they started out steady and just keep moving up the whole way and I feel really good about those three and how they competed.”
The aforementioned freshman that led the Utes were Karli Branch, Grace Burnett and Ellie Lundgreen. In their first college meet, all three finished in the top 15. Burnett led the way with a time of 19:10.3 that was good for a seventh-place finish. Branch finished in 11th with a time of 19:13.5, while Lundgreen finished next in 12th place, coming in at 19:14.8.
“Our fourth runner today, [Brooke] Manson, did a great job and it was certainly her best cross country race of her collegiate career thus far and she finished, as you’d expect, coming down a hill really rolling picking people off,” Kepler said. Manson, a sophomore, came in with a time of 19:42.2 to snag an 18th-place finish while setting a new personal record time. Senior Jade Mulvey was the next Ute to finish with a time of 19:58.6, securing 25th place.
“Everybody that ran today ran hard, competed really well, fought for every position particularly at the end with the downhill finish and I think it was a great start. Certainly, a promising start for those three freshmen that looked like savvy veterans the way they raced today and they will get more comfortable and race even better as they train more and adapt to the collegiate racing scene,” Kepler stated.
Rounding out the competition for the Utes was junior Astrid Lindgren, coming in 33rd with a time of 20:07.0, freshman Kaitlyn Mercer finishing 44th with 20:48.9 and junior Ashley Licata placing 53rd clocking in at 21:50.0.
The Utes continue their season next week. They head up to the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho, to run in the College of Southern Idaho Invitational.