Aug. 29, 2012
OREM, Utah -- The reasoning for Utah Valley University men's and women's cross country coach Scott Houle to redshirt five of his top runners for the 2011 season was two-fold: Build depth and force other runners to step up.
"We are going to be a much stronger and deeper," Houle said of the 2012 version of the Wolverines.
Brooke Hodson, Stephanie Christensen, Angela Baker and Krystal Harper were redshirts for the women's team and Joshua McCabe was a redshirt for the men's team, and in their absence, several other Wolverines stepped up and had great seasons.
On the women's side, Shelise Walker led the Wolverines in every meet and she placed 50th overall at the NCAA West Regionals.
"We wanted to give the girls one more year together and to help our team get better," Houle said.
Without Hodson, Christensen, Baker and Harper, the Wolverines captured their fourth straight Great West Conference cross country championship behind Walker, Ivie Gonsalves, Kalina Clegg, Jessica Wilding, Mackenzie Roberts, Ally Deeter, and Stephanie Talbot. Clegg and Talbot are the only two not returning from that group.
On the men's side, Cliff Nielson
was UVU's most consistent runner all year in leading the men to their third straight GWC crown.
"The redshirt with Josh allowed Cliff to step up and take a leadership role, and it also allowed him to find himself (as a runner)," Houle said. "Keeping Josh around another year will make our team stronger. We're excited to have those two back on the course together."
Macy Butterfield, Trevor Sharp, Mike Felix, Tim Rowberry, Alex Dutton and Chris Claflin were also part of the championship-winning team, and Dutton and Rowberry are the only two not returning.
The returning strength of the men's and women's team, coupled with a talented crop of freshmen only adds to the strength and depth of the team as well.
The Wolverines open the season Saturday at Utah State. The men's race begins at 9 a.m. MT and the women's race follows at 9:30 a.m. at the Innovation Campus Wellness Park located at Utah State University.
"We are ready to go. Utah State is going to be a fun race for us. It will be a good tune-up. No one really knows where they are," Houle said. "We will see how we are and how our summer training went and see where we are as a team."