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ISU Cross Country

Women's Cross Country 9/25/2023 8:35:00 PM Jonathan Match, ISU Media Relations
Women's Cross Country 9/25/2023 8:35:00 PM Jonathan Match, ISU Media Relations

Bengals Battle Elements and Opponents Hosting Idaho State XC Open

POCATELLO, Idaho – The Idaho State Bengals gathered at Centennial Course this past weekend for the Annual Idaho State XC Open. The weekend races were on track for another great showing of Bengal running prowess, Mother nature had other ideas though and the Bengals had to battle the elements along with competition from other teams.

The day started with the Bengal men getting ready to take on a field of runners from SLCC, CSI, MSU-Billings and some participants from the BYU farm team.

Before the race could begin, a massive thunderstorm rolled in directly on top of the course. The teams returned to their tents and sheltered in place until the lightning delay was over.

30 Minutes later, the teams returned to the starting line and the race began with the crack of the starters pistol.

Through the first 2.5K the pack remained tight with the runners battling the water-logged course. Around the start of the second lap, the top seven runners began to pull out in front.

Among the front of the pack was Idaho State's Seth Babbel, Gavin Pollock and Brandon Walker. Coming into the final stretch Babbel emerged around the bend battling with unattached Zachary Mitchell.

In the final 200 yards of the course, Babble put on a final burst of speed and, outsprinting his opponent, crossed the finish line in first place bringing home the gold for the Orange and Black.

Gavin Pollock crossed in third and Brandon Walker came in fifth. Rounding out the top-ten, Cade Smith finished in ninth-place and Clark Baker took tenth.

"The men are still a very young team but we were hoping to see some significant progress from last year as many of them were freshmen," remarked Head Coach Nate Houle. "They ran very well this weekend and demonstrated the progress that we were hoping to see from last year despite being on a softer muddier course than last year. Our top 5 averaged 19:28 last year on a dry course. This year we averaged 19:04. If we stay healthy and continue to progress this group could surprise some people this year."

With more inclement weather coming over the course, the women lined up to start their race. At that moment, the heavens opened up and a massive deluge began on the course.

Braving extremely strong wind and rain, the Bengal women started their race as hail also began to pelt the runners on the course.

After around five minutes of racing, a massive boom of thunder was heard on the course and race officials determined to run only one lap for safety reasons.

"The women's race was chaotic but the kind that crazy people who run cross country seem to enjoy!" continued Houle. "The race was shortened to a 3k mid-race due to lightning and hail that hit right after the gun went off. There was confusion out on the course with one of the officials actually stopping the race for a moment. The course turned into a messy river of mud as they tried to climb up the back hills. Our plan going in was to get out conservatively so that we had legs for the second lap when we could move up and close hard but when it got cut short we didn't have time to execute the second part of that plan. Despite everything they ran well and I was especially proud of Madi Kenyon for nearly winning the race after her tough start to her season."

Kenyon finished the race in second place followed by Cassandra Vasquez in fourth. Sulette Ferreyra and Olivia Kendall crossed the line in eighth and ninth.

The Bengals rounded out the top-11 with Allie Lemons crossing ninth and Alivia Johnson finishing in 11th place.

While the meet did not go according to plan, the Bengals showed their resiliency and never-give-up attitudes on the course.

This week, the Bengals travel to SEC country to take on the Gans Creek Classic hosted by the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.