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Ball runs to Big West title

LOGAN — Trevor Ball finished first and led Utah State to a second-place team finish at the Big West Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Riverside, Calif.

"Trevor, Clark (Bryner) and Dave (Danley) ran great for us," head coach Gregg Gensel said. Ball, a junior from Hyrum, finished the 8-kilometer race in 24:08 to capture the men's individual title and was named Big West Cross Country Male Athlete of the Year. Clark, a junior from Logan, finished eight seconds after Ball to give USU the top two finishes. Danley finished 11th.

Utah State has only captured the individual title two other times. Ball, after missing the first of the season due to injury and sickness, was the Aggies top runner by finishing 22nd among the nation's top teams at the NCAA Pre-Nationals.

The Aggie men have now finished in the top two spots at the Big West Championships 11 of the last 13 years. Cal Poly captured the team title by placing five of its runners in the top 10 and eight of its runners in the top 20. This is the Mustangs second consecutive team title. The Mustangs are ranked sixth in the nation. UC Santa Barbara captured third-place.

"The only teams that beat us in both the men's and women's races were nationally ranked teams," said Coach Gensel.

Ashley Johnson and Lida Ripplinger finished fifth and seventh respectively to lead Utah State to a third-place team finish.

Johnson, a sophomore from Hyrum, took eighth at last years championships, but improved by finishing in fifth place with a time of 20:56=2E Ripplinger, a senior from Salt Lake City, finished in seventh place with a time of 20:59. The Aggie women finished in third-place with 69 points.

Twin sisters Lauren and Lindsay Christman finished first and second to lead UC Santa Barbara to a its second consecutive team championship. The Gauchos, ranked 16th nationally, took six of the top 20 spots. Idaho, ranked 23rd nationally, finished in second.

The men and women will compete at the NCAA Mountain Regionals on Nov. 13 at Fort Collins, Colo.

WEBER STATE: The Weber State women's Cross Country team finished second at the 2004 Big Sky Championships held Saturday in Bozeman, Montana. The Wildcat men came in fourth place and were led by senior Nate Long who finished first overall.

Long turned in a time of 24:15, the fastest five-mile time in Big Sky Championship history. He won the individual title by eight seconds.

Long became the first Wildcat to capture the invidual championship since Chris Jones won in 1994, and just the third Wildcat ever to win individual honors.

The WSU men's team came in fourth place overall with 93 points finishing behind Northern Arizona, Montana State, and Idaho State.

Freshman Levi Lefevre was 16th overall at 25:01. Bob Lambert and Riley Cook came in 22nd and 23rd overall. Senior Ken Richardson was 31st with a time of 25:42, Drew Casselberry was 33rd at 25:58, and Seth Steed came in 42nd overall with a time of 26:44. The fourth place overall finish was the lowest team finish since the 'Cats finished fifth in 1995.

On the women's side the Wildcats came in with 52 points, finishing second to Northern Arizona which had 30 points. The Lumberjacks won their fourth straight title and it is the fourth straight time Weber State has finished second.

All six Wildcat runners finished 24th or better. NAU won the first three individual spots with Weber State's Lindsey Anderson finishing 5th overall with a time of 17:35 on the three mile course. Ashley Rasmussen was seventh at 17:37, with freshman Chaly Clapier coming in 11th. Jamie Stubbs was 13th overall at 17:57, Sariah St. Laurent was 16th, Laura Dalton came in 20th, and senior Caroline Pebley finished 24th with a time of 18:31.

Both the men's and women's teams will compete at the NCAA Mountain Regionals November 13 in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

SOUTHERN UTAH: Southern Utah men's and women's cross country teams continued its dominance of the Mid-Continent Conference by sweeping both conference titles at the 2004 Mid-Con Championships Saturday on the hilly, wet and muddy Oakland University Katke-Cousins Golf Course in Rochester, Mich. The Thunderbird men broke their own conference team scoring record for the second-straight season in winning their seventh title in eight years, while the women claimed their unprecedented seventh-consecutive Mid-Con crown as SUU notched a title-sweep for the sixth time in the last seven seasons overall.

SUU's men ran a near-perfect race in taking five of the top-six overall places for a championship record score of 18 points, led by redshirt freshman Jess Baumgartner who won the conference individual title and Athlete of the Year honors with an 8-kilometer time of 26:01.3. Fellow freshmen Kevin Sandall (26:36.4) and Shaun Vernon (26:47.8) followed in second and fourth, respectively, while junior Chad Sanada placed fifth (26:55.4) and senior Brad Parker took sixth (27:00.5) to finish SUU's scoring. All five T-Bird scorers earned first team all-conference accolades and freshman Graham Cheever took home second team honors despite not figuring in the scoring with a 10th-place 27:23.1 and sophomore Karl Siebach placed 23rd overall at 28:47.8. =09 The Thunderbirds finished comfortably ahead of second-place IUPUI's total of 56 points, as Jaguar runner Brad Wheeler spoiled SUU's chance at perfection by placing third-individually at 26:44.2, followed by Western Illinois in third with 76 points and host Oakland in fourth with 130 points.

Meanwhile, the Thunderbird women placed three runners in the top-10 in holding off second-place Western Illinois 58-69, in what turned out to be the second-closest margin of victory for SUU in its seven-year run. In 1999, the Thunderbird women outlasted UMKC by three points, 48-51, in their first title defense which marked the team's smallest margin of victory over that championship span.