The University of Portland men’s and women’s cross country teams both came in second place at the West Coast Conference Championships in Provo, Utah on Saturday morning.
While BYU came in first for both races — with the championship being on their home course at an altitude of 4,500 feet — the UP men’s team got the individual winner as redshirt senior Nick Hauger finished the 8k first with a time of 23:20.8.
“I went in with the intention to give myself a shot to win it, but really the intention was to invoke some energy within the team as well,” Hauger said. “It was exciting to come away with a win, just looking at it as a fun accomplishment for the season.”
Last year, Hauger came in behind five BYU runners, so getting the individual winner was an unexpected success for the redshirt senior and his team.
“I didn’t think someone could...beat the top guys from BYU,” men’s head coach Rob Conner said. “This year he came up to their level and beat their guys. It’s really remarkable.”
Redshirt senior Lauren LaRocco came back this year after not competing last season to finish second in the women’s 6k with a time of 19:51.90 and bring her team up to second place behind BYU as well.
“I was really happy with the team’s results because BYU is a really good team,” LaRocco said. “People really stepped up and...it was hard.”
Despite several factors that put the Pilots at a disadvantage, like arriving in Utah only the night before the morning race and running at a higher altitude, other Portland athletes were able to help push UP to second place.
On the men’s team, redshirt sophomore Riley Olsen finished 10th with a time of 24:03.40, followed by redshirt junior Caleb Webb in 12th place at 24:08.00 and redshirt sophomore Reuben Kiprono, 24:12.00, in 14th.
For the women, redshirt junior Taryn Rawlings placed fourth with a time of 20:40.00, while redshirt junior Aoibhe Richardson followed right behind in fifth at 20:43.00.
The Pilots are now gearing up for the NCAA West Regional, where the men and women placed first and 10th, respectively, last year.
“We want to have two weeks of good training,” Conner said. “We’re not going to emphasize the winning of it so much as the moving on to nationals.”
“You’re kind of in it to win it at this point of the season,” LaRocco said.
The women will compete in regionals in Sacramento, California on Nov. 9 at 11 a.m., and the men will follow at noon.
Ana Clyde is a sports reporter at The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.