No. 16 T-Birds Dominate URC Invitational; Women’s Team Shows Promise Finishing 6th

SUU Athletic Strategic Communications

The Thunderbird men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at the UC Riverside Invitational on Saturday morning, with both teams putting up solid finishes.

The No. 16 men’s team won the UCR Invitational with a low score of 30 points.

Kasey Knevelbaard was the top finisher for the Thunderbirds, finishing in third place with a time of 24:03.5 on the 8K course.

The Thunderbirds also claimed the fourth and fifth spot in Riverside, with Josh Collins finishing in 24:03.5 and Mike Tate finishing in 24:03.9. This was Tate’s first cross country race in over a year for Southern Utah.

In his first race as a Thunderbird, freshman Christian Ricketts finished in 24:11.9, which put him seventh place.

SUU head coach Eric Houle was impressed with the team’s ability to run as a pack.

“A 15-second spread between our first and our fifth guy is what coaches wish for in these big meets,” Houle said.

Coming in 11th with a time of 24:18.7 was Matthew Wright and George Espino followed in 12th with a time of 24:24.1. Aiden Reed came in 14th finishing the race in 24:27.8.

“It was a very good performance on the men’s side, they are running like a high caliber team,” Houle said.

Alabama, who is expected to be major player in the South Region, did not run their entire top team at the event. Several Thunderbirds were able to place before their top runner. The Thunderbirds were also able to top Chico State and Utah Valley at the event.

The SUU women came in sixth at the UCR Invitational with Madison Fruchey leading the way for the Thunderbirds coming in 31st with a time of 20:57.7. This was the first race Fruchey has ran for SUU.

Maddy Kauffman finished 34th with a time of 21:05.2.

Julietta Navarrete-Lamas finished in 45th with a time of 21:22.2. Next to finish was Morgan Porcaro with a 21:27.1.

Ashley Tyndall finished in 49th with a time of 21:27.3. Alison Pray finished in 21:41.8, followed up by Samantha Taylor with a 22:13.8,

“I thought it was a great showing for the women,” Houle said. “We have a strong team, especially when we are going in as virtually a new team.”

Southern Utah’s Angie Nickerson and Sharlie Dimick are redshirting this season, but competed at the UCR Invitational unattached. They finished in 37th and 38th respectively.

The Thunderbirds will be back in action on September 29, when the head to South Bend, Indiana to compete at the Notre Dame Invitational.

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