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ISU Cross Country

Bengals Compete Strong at Final Non-Championship Race

POCATELLO, Idaho – The Idaho State runnin' Bengals competed today at the Color Country Invitational in Cedar City, Utah hosted by Southern Utah University. The meet was the Bengals' final race before heading to Missoula, Montana on Oct. 27 for the 2023 Big Sky Cross Country Championship.

"We went into the race off of a three-weekend block, not sure how the team was going to feel. It was a shorter race so lower risk," remarked Head Coach Nate Houle.

"We used this race to help us transition into later season and wanted to cap it off with a fun race. There are always details you want to work out so that at conference we are dialed in and predictable with what we can do."

The Bengals competed against three other NCAA Division I programs Saturday morning, Southern Utah, Utah Valley University and Utah Tech University looking to gain valuable race experience before the championships.

The Orange and Black started the day with the women's 4K.

"The women's race was a little different because we have a larger women's squad," continued Houle. "We were looking to sort out who our end-of-season team will be. It's good to start getting some of our 'injured' Bengals back."

"The course is two 2k loops and deceivingly hilly, there's a lot of room for mistakes on this course. We had them pack up for the first lap and then told them they could go on the 2nd lap. After the first half we were back but then we saw a lot of movement on the 2nd, We were even a little faster than what the final results show."

Coming off of a strong performance in Missouri, Cassandra Vasquez picked up a top-10 finish. Vasquez crossed the line in 14:59.19 for a ninth-place finish.

Next up for the Bengals was Sulette Ferreyra-Serna who finished 14th with a time of 15:15.69. Hot on her heels was Alivia Johnson who crossed the line just behind in 15:17.42 for 15th place.

Madi Kenyon rounded out the top-20 of the race, crossing the line in 15:28.88 for 20th place.

The Bengals scored 71 points to finish in third-place as a team. The Idaho State women had the lowest spread as a team, with 35 seconds between the Bengal runners

The Bengal men followed with a 6K race. Again competing against DI talent, the Bengals showed their strength with six runners finishing in the top-16 of the race.

"Right now I have seven guys and that's the team," said Houle. "The idea with them is making sure we sure up the spread. If we are going to have a smaller team, I want them to be a tight-knit one. In Missouri, we were more spread out and I wanted to see that better this one. Like the women, I had them hold back and then they really sped up on laps two and three and they were almost running out of guys to pass. I think Utah tech had 8 guys in front of us after the first lap and the men ended up passing most of them."

Gavin Pollock led the men's team into the finish line, flying across the line in 19:11.16, finishing sixth and setting the tone for the Bengals.

Right behind him was Seth Babbel, who after a strong meet in Missouri followed it up with a seventh-place finish in Cedar City, crossing the line just behind Pollock in 19:11.91.

Cade Smith was next in for the Orange and Black grabbing the 10th place with a 6K time of 19:25.82.

The Next three Bengals crossed the line one-after-another to round out the top-16.

Sunny Gunn was first crossing in 19:32.21 for 13th place, Brandon Walker was next in 19:32.76 for 14th and Bengal freshman Clark Baker finished 16th in 19:33.91.

The Bengal men had the No. 1 team spread in the race, with only a difference of 21 seconds between the Bengals, showing a strong pack mentality.

The Idaho State men finished with 45 team points and a second-place team finish in the race