XC runs to best in the west

By The Beacon | November 28, 2012 9:00pm

Men’s cross country ends its season with a 12th overall finish at the NCAA National Championships led by sophomore Scott Fauble

The cross country team led by sophomore Scott Fauble (Left) and junior David Perry (Right) competing in the WCC Preview earlier this season. Fauble went on to place 25th at the WCC National Championship in Louisville, Ken. (Photograph courtesy of Kim Spir)

By Katie Dunn Staff Writer dunn16@up.edu

A 6.2 mile course, facing regional rivals like Stanford and Oregon plus traveling all the way to Kentucky could not stop UP's men's cross country team from finishing 12th overall at the NCAA championships Nov. 17. The Pilots had been ranked No. 9 in the nation and received an automatic bid to the championship after finishing 2nd in the NCAA West Regionals and winning the WCC title.

With 365 points, the Pilots finished above 19 other teams and had two runners finish in the top 50. The Pilots sent seven runners to the championships including four underclassmen. They had four runners finish in the top 150 and all finished the 10k in fewer than 33 minutes.

Finishing in the top spot for the Pilots was red-shirt sophomore Scott Fauble, who came in 25th place with a season-best time of 29:50:8. He also earned All-American honors for his race, finishing before all the other WCC runners.

The Pilots are a team full of youth and promise. Only six seniors make up the 32-man roster after 14 freshmen replenished it at the beginning of the 2012 season. Many of the runners red-shirt so they can get stronger and help the team as much as possible during their time at UP. The team is depending on its younger runners and current red-shirts to carry the team next season and keep the championship appearances coming. The team has made NCAA appearances 14 of the last 19 years, with the highest placing of seventh.

To keep the winning tradition going, UP will rely on runners like Fauble, sophomore Woody Kincaid and freshman Jacob Smith to push their teammates to be the best they can be. Under the leadership of Head Coach Rob Conner, the men's cross-country team has been ranked in the national Top 25 all but one year since 1991. Conner was recently named Coach of the Year for the West Region, his sixth time receiving this honor, as well as WCC Coach of the Year.

The women's cross country team took 2nd at the WCC championships and 8th at West Regionals. Like the men's team, the women had a sophomore, Tansey Lystad, lead the team at Regionals. Lystad finished just outside of receiving All-Regional honors at the West Regionals, finishing 29th. The women say goodbye to four seniors and will rely on seven freshmen to enhance their 25-woman roster.

The men's cross country team did not improve from its 8th place finish last year in the NCAA championship, despite the top- notch performance by Fauble. The women's team improved from its 10th place finish in last year's West Regional championship race, and looks to build off it next year. Both teams are looking to their younger runners to grow, focus and lead the teams in the future.

(Photograph courtesy of Kim Spir)