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UVU cross-country: women win division at NCAA Pre-Nationals

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LOUISVILLE -- As far as victories go, Utah Valley University cross-country coach Scott Houle calls his women's team win in its division at NCAA Pre-Nationals Saturday one of the biggest -- if not the biggest -- in school history.

Behind a sixth-place finish by Darian Sharp and a 16th-place finish by Krystal Harper, the women's team placed first with 154 points, beating West Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, Cincinnati and Louisville.

"When someone like Utah Valley, who no one knows, beats a team like South Carolina, who everyone knows, it's a great big deal," Houle said.

Sharp traversed the 6K-course at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in the time of 21:29:01, while Harper finished at 21.54.8.

"They ran a really good race," Houle said. "Darian got out there and ran with the front group. Her and Krystal had a good 1, 2 going. They started out very fast and aggressive."

By draw, Houle said, the Wolverines ran in the Women's Black Unseeded 6K, while the men competed in the Black Seeded 8K.

UVU's Stephanie Christensen had a great race in placing 24th (22:05.4), while Ivie Gonsalves was 53rd (22:30.9); Angie Baker-Blackham 55th (22:32.4); Bridget Hazel 76th (22:51.4) and Ally Deeter 79th (22:53.9).

"We're starting to run really, really well," Houle said. "We're getting faster and more confident. I thought we would run pretty good here."

The men finished 26th, but Houle said the marks were there.

"Almost everyone had a P.R. for our men," he said. "It was an extremely fast race and our guys ran really, really well. Those other teams are loaded."

Only Joshua McCabe, who was running his first race of the year, and Trevor Sharp, who lost a shoe 800 meters into the race, didn't put up one of their best times.

Cliff Nielson placed 44th overall with the time of 23:59.8, while McCabe finished 97th (24:28.3), followed by Macy Butterfield 128th (24:40.2); Mike Felix 180th (25:06.5); Trevor Baker 207th (25:20.8); Chris Dorton 231st (25:39.7) and Sharp 238th 25:44.9).

"This was a big shot in the arm for both our teams," Houle said. "To run at a huge meet like this and beat some of the teams that we beat and work out some wrinkles, in a couple of weeks down the road we'll be a lot more confident."

The University of Colorado won the Men's Black Seeded 8K with 72 points.

The Wolverines are back in action Oct. 27 at the Great West Conference Championships in Chicago.

Jay Hinton is a sports information assistant at Utah Valley University.