KUNA, ID--Buoyed by excellent finishes up and down the roster, the #24 Boise State men's cross country team won the Mountain West Conference championship this morning at Falcon Crest Golf Course, upsetting #19 Colorado State. #1-ranked New Mexico won its ninth consecutive women's title with Air Force sneaking ahead of the Broncos for second.
With a narrow bridge over the water feature, the key in this race was getting a great start, something that Boise State, Colorado State and Air Force all did. Within the first lap of four times around the 8-kilometer race laid out around Falcon Crest's Freedom Course, Boise State's Yusuke Uchikoshi and Michael Vennard joined Colorado State's Jerrell Mock and Utah State's Dillon Maggard in the top four. Those four began to pull away and kept their hold on the remainder of the field throughout the race in varying orders. The top five runners for each team contribute to the team score.
On the final lap, Uchikoshi led the field with Mock in second, Maggard third and Vennard in fourth. It was clearly going to be between Boise State and Colorado State for the team title. Two Colorado State runners came next followed by Boise State's Miler Haller and another Ram. Thus, Colorado State had a 3-2 and a 4-3 advantage. Two more CSU runners trailed, followed closely by Broncos Rhys Park and Chandler Austin.
At this point, Bronco coach Corey Ihmels yelled instructions to Park and Austin, "If you guys can catch that pack ahead of you, we win!"
That is exactly what happened. Haller ran down the Ram runners ahead of him and finished eighth with a time of 24:13.70, joined on the Second Team by Park. Park not only caught the two Rams immediately in front of him but finished 12th with a time of 24:24.30. Meanwhile, Uchikoshi used a devastating kick to sprint away from the field in the last 50 yards to take the individual title in 23:48.80 with Vennard rallying for third (24:00.70). Colorado State's Mock finished second and four Rams behind him finished in the Top 14 to earn Second Team recognition.
But because of the excellent finishes by Uchikoshi, Vennard, Haller and Park, it was enough to win the championship for the Broncos with 41 points to Colorado State's 48 points. Chandler Austin snared the fifth-best time for the Broncos in 24:36.00 for 17th place. Boise State head coach Corey Ihmels, who has taken the team to elite status in three seasons, was named Mountain West Men's Coach of the Year.
On the women's side, Alice Wright of New Mexico captured individual honors while Boise State's Brenna Peloquin was fourth. Clare O'Brien was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year and earned Second Team honors.
The Broncos will compete in the NCAA Western Regionals November 11 in Sacramento, California.