PROVO -- Behind a sterling performance from sophomore Amber Henry, Weber State's women's cross country team stunned the field with a third-place finish at the 2011 NCAA Mountain Region Meet Saturday morning at the East Bay Golf Course.
The meet was hosted by Brigham Young University, which won the men's race.
Perennial region powers Colorado and New Mexico tied for first place with 84 points. The Wildcats fought off hometown favorite BYU for third, scoring 135 points. The Cougars were fourth with 140.
"Wow, what a race," said WSU coach Paul Pilkington. "That is the highest finish ever for our women at the Region meet, and it's the first time we have ever finished ahead of BYU in a women's cross country meet period, and to do it on their home course makes it even more special."
Pilkington was pleased with the effort of all seven runners and particularly Henry, the sophomore who fought off several top ranked runners to finish sixth.
"Amber has a tremendous amount of grit and competitive spirit," Pilkington said. "The rest of the team to their cue from her and stayed up in the pack and ran a great race. One through seven this maybe the best women's cross country race ever. I am really proud of the way the responded."
The third-place finish, in one of the strongest regions in the country, maybe good enough for the Wildcats to earn an at-large berth to the 2011 NCAA Division I championships on Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind.
"We willl be waiting to see how the other regions fared," Pilkington said. "Amber will be going for sure. New Mexico and Colorado get automatic team berths."
All five WSU runners finished in the top 45. Henry covered the 6,000-meter course in 21:04.0. Junior Sarah Callister was 22nd in 21:46.7 and junior Laken Hintze was 26th in 21:51.5.
The WSU men finished sixth with a total of 190 points, finishing one point head of Utah State.
BYU won the men's race with 49 points, led by Miles Batty who covered the 10,000 metes in 30:09.3. Senior Brett Hales was WSU's top finisher at 29th with a time of 31:21.0. Sophomore Mike Hardy was 31st in 31:22.0 and sophomore Jason Nance was 33rd in 31:26.1.
"The men did a great job of staying together and helping each other out," said Pilkington. "Our top three runners were within five seconds of each other."