By: Joshua Arace
Cross country season is approaching, and Boise State is primed to have an excellent season, entering the year with both their men’s and women’s teams ranked nationally. For Boise State sports fans, it is something to look forward to.
In pre-season polls, the Boise State men’s team is ranked second in the Mountain West, receiving 45 points and 3 first place votes, just a point shy of first place Mountain West rivals Colorado State. Other schools in the Mountain West that will be in competition with Boise State will be Air Force, New Mexico, and Utah State. In terms of national ranking, Boise State is currently No. 24 in the nation, and will look to improve their standing throughout the season.
There is much reason for optimism on the team. Following a 19th place finish at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships last season, the team lost none of its players to graduation and is set to take a big step forward after a full offseason of training and preparation as a team. Some of the notable runners on the team include senior Yusuke Uchikoshi, who was named the 2016 Mountain West Champion, and senior Michael Vennard who was named to the All-Mountain West First Team last season.
“The team should be going in [the season]with lots of confidence,” said senior runner Melika Ghali on the team being ranked “and thinking of competing at a higher level than last year.” Ghali is currently working on earning his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with an emphasis of exercise science.
As for the women’s team, they too are entering the season ranked second in the Mountain West, receiving 89 points and 1 first place vote, 11 points behind first place team New Mexico. he women’s primary competition in the Mountain West outside New Mexico will be Air Force, Colorado State, and Utah State. Nationally, the women’s team enters the season ranked No. 19 in this season’s pre-season polls.
The women’s team also has a lot of reason for optimism as they are entering this season losing just one senior from last year’s team. One of many star runners on this team is sophomore Clare O’Brien, who was the Mountain West’s 2016 Cross Country Freshman of the Year. O’Brien will look to progress on her stellar performance last season with another great year. Junior Brenna Peloquin will also look to add to her impressive cross country resume, after an extremely impressive 6th place individual performance at the NCAA National Championships last season, and also being named to the All-NCAA Cross Country.
“We are moving towards the team culture that I had my freshman and sophomore year at Stanford,” said current Bronco and former Stanford Cardinal runner Megan Lacy. “That is really exciting for me because that’s when we did special things.”
Lacy and the Cardinals placed 3rd at the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships, showing the high confidence she has in this Broncos team. Lacy is a graduate student at Boise State, working on her master’s degree in athletic leadership.
With most of the pieces from last season returning, there is plenty of hope for Boise State’s men’s and women’s cross country team to improve this season on already impressive placings from last season. The Broncos cross country teams were scheduled to debut Sept. 7 at the Oregon XC Preview, but the event was canceled due to due to poor air quality. Instead, the teams will have to wait until Sept. 30 at the Greater Louisville Classic.