LOGAN, Utah – Utah State cross country ushered in the 2021 season with the Sagebrush Invitational on Saturday at the Steve & Dona Reeder Cross Country Course. Senior Mark Crandall led the men’s side in the 7K, while freshman Emma Thornley paced the women in the 5K.
“We wanted to see where some people were at,” said USU head coach Artie Gulden, “and get to know a little bit about how the freshmen raced and things like that, and we accomplished that today.”
Crandall’s time of 21:39 narrowly beat out freshman Walker Cole, who finished with a mark of 21:43. Senior Roberto Porras, freshman Will Dixon and sophomore Max Wehrli rounded at the top five finishers for the Aggies.
“Mark is a great success story, in terms of a fairly average to good high school runner who has come in and worked really hard over a period of years,” Gulden said. “Now, he’s running really well and making a huge contribution to the team.”
On the women’s side, Thornley’s time of 18:15 put her 15 seconds clear of Tori Parkinson, a former member of the USU cross country team from 2014-17. Thornley’s performance was indicative of the strong performance by the Aggie newcomers in their first action in a Utah State uniform.
“Our freshmen really ran well,” Gulden said. “Emma being able to go get Tori (Parkinson), based off of Tori’s marathon and half-marathon results, she’s in really good shape. So, it’s really encouraging to have Emma be able to go get her and beat her.”
Thornley and Parkinson were followed by freshmen twin sisters Kaybree and Karlee Christensen, and senior Madison Taylor, to complete the top-five finishers for the invitational.
“(The group broke) apart early in the race, earlier than we would have wanted,” Gulden said. “But, the ladies were able to find each other in the middle part of the race and kind of get into groups of two or three, and then work together really well.”
Utah State cross country will again take the course on Sept. 18, as part of the Montana State Invitational in Bozeman, Montana.
For more information on the Utah State track & field/cross country programs, follow the Aggies on Twitter at @USUTF_XC, on Facebook at USUTrack and on Instagram at USUTF_XC.
SAGEBRUSH INVITATIONAL | September 4, 2021 | Logan, Utah
Utah State Women’s Results: 1. Emma Thornley (USU) – 18:15; 3.Kaybree Christensen (USU) – 18:43; 4. Karlee Christensen (USU) – 19:00; 5. Madison Taylor (USU) – 19:00.5; 6. Mattie Geddes (USU) – 19:12; 7. LeAnn Larkin-Hatch (USU) – 19:14; 8. Megan Terry (USU) – 19:14; 9. Sammi Lee (USU) – 19:14; 10. Taylia Norris (USU) – 19:24; 11. Camilla McKinstry (USU) – 19:34; 12. Madison Strasner (USU) – 19:44; 13. Taylor Smart (USU) – 20:01; 14. Paytin Drollinger (USU) – 20:22; 15. Aubrey Thueson (USU) – 20:26; 16. Kari Taylor (USU) – 20:42; 18. Camille Wirthlin (USU) – 20:45.
Utah State Men’s Results: 1. Mark Crandall (USU) – 21:39; 2. Walker Cole (USU) – 21:43; 3. Roberto Porras (USU) – 21:49; 4. Will Dixon (USU) – 21:53; 5. Max Wehril (USU) – 22:02; 6. Devin Pancake (USU) – 22:06; 8. Chase Leach (USU) – 22:14; 9. Garrett Woodhouse (USU) – 22:25; 10. Justin Hodges (USU) – 22:25; 11. Ben Berlin (USU) – 22:38.