OREM — The Utah Valley State men's and women's cross country teams both finished in the middle of the pack Saturday at the Independent Nationals in Fort Wayne, Ind.
With both UVSC squads competing in nine-team fields, the Wolverine women placed fourth and the men finished fifth.
Mary Nothum and Bekah Poppinga led the Wolverines by individually finishing fifth and seventh, respectively. Nothum, who navigated the muddy six-kilometer course in 22:34.2, was the fastest female freshman. By finishing in the top 10, Nothum and Poppinga both garnered All-Independent recognition.
All five of the runners who counted toward the UVSC women's team score finished in the top 20, a feat matched only by team champion South Dakota State. The Wolverines accrued 68 points, barely behind third-place UC Davis and its score of 66.
Racing Saturday without injured senior Joe Bendoski, the proverbial alpha male and unquestioned fastest runner on the men's team who has battled back and Achilles maladies for most of the season, Utah Valley State's men scored 127 points to finish fifth. Sophomore Chase Englestead, who was Bendoski's wing man several times this year, ran the 8K in 26:27.1 to lead the Wolverines and finish 11th individually.
For comparison's sake, if Bendoski had actually raced and posted a top-10 finish — a virtual certainty in a race like this one when he's healthy — UVSC likely would've eclipsed SDSU at 106 points for third place.
UC Davis and North Dakota State were the cream of the men's crop; with 35 points, the Aggies edged out the Bison for the team crown by three.
The week that was
WOMEN'S SOCCER: The Wolverines (6-10-1) wrapped up their regular season last Thursday with a 4-1 road loss to Loyola Marymount. Senior midfielder Courtney Robbins (Mountain View High) scored her team-leading seventh goal in the 47th minute to pull UVSC to within 2-1, but the Lions roared back with two scores in the next six minutes to open up a three-goal lead.
WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: After going 0-2 on a road trip to the Dakotas in early Oct., Utah Valley State returned the favor for the pair of road losses by defeating South Dakota State and North Dakota State when they came to town last weekend. After sweeping the Jackrabbits on Thursday, the Wolverines (13-10) beat the Bison in four games Saturday.
The match against NDSU was rather peculiar because of the huge momentum swing from the match's beginning to end. After playing so poorly in a first game that it lost 13-30, UVSC played progressively better with each subsequent game such that the Wolverines won Games 2, 3 and 4 by marks of 30-28, 30-24 and 30-16. Sophomore outside hitter Camie Manwill spearheaded the UVSC attack with 31 kills combined over the two matches.
MEN'S BASKETBALL: exhibition vs. Mesa State, 7:05 p.m. Monday.
WOMEN'S SOCCER: at United Soccer Conference Tournament in Washington, D.C., Friday through Sunday.
WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: vs. Montana State, 7 p.m. Friday; vs. Texas-Pan American, 7 p.m. Saturday.
WRESTLING: team wrestle-off, 7 p.m. tonight in the Shurian Family Activity Center.
WOMEN'S GOLF: at the Cal Poly Invitational, Monday and Tuesday.