Tank Leads Utah Cross Country at Silver State Collegiate Challenge
LAS VEGAS – The Utah cross country team finally got back to racing this Monday as it competed in the Silver State Collegiate Cross Country Challenge and was led by Poppy Tank with an eighth-place finish.
Competing for the first time since the NCAA Championships back in 2019, the Utah cross country team had three runners finish in the top-30 led by Tank's eight-place performance as the team finished with 137 points. The senior was the first Ute to cross the finish line with a time of 20:15.7.
"First time for this group to race in almost 11 months and certainly had a really nice race out of Poppy Tank," head coach Kyle Kepler said postrace. "She led us and she would be the first to tell you it wasn't her smoothest raise but she hung on and fought really hard for that top-10 finish. You know, when you haven't raced in such a long time it's just really hard to, you know, feel great and feel smooth. That's just come down to time with races. When we come back here in three weeks, I strongly believe she will feel significantly better and race like the Poppy Tank that we know."
Morgan Jensen, who ran in her first collegiate race Monday, just edged out Sarah Newton (21:16.9) with a mark of 21:16.5 for 28th. Natalie Platil was the next scorer for Utah to cross the finish line, checking in at 21:48.8. Sophie Ryan was not far behind Platil, posting a time of 22:09.5 and just ahead of Kennedy Powell (22.10.3).
"True freshman Morgan Jensen had a great race," Kepler mentioned. "She hung on tough with her first time running in the 6k. She probably went through the 5k and put in a lifetime best, went under 18 minutes through there so I thought she did a heckuva job in her first ever collegiate race of any kind. She's done a really nice job and kind of raced how she's been training so we'll continue to get better you know with her."
Rounding out the race for Utah were Karli Branch (22:21.9), Sara Leonard (22.38.0) and Astrid Lindgren (23:05.7). Those three, including Ryan and Powell all finished in succession of one another in the race.
Third-ranked BYU won the race with 46 points followed by #13 Boise State (61 points), #26 Northern Arizona (64 points), #8 Washington (88 points) and Weber State (123 points).
The Utes will get a couple weeks to train and get ready for its second and final regular-season race on Feb. 13 when it returns to Craig Ranch Regional Park for the Battle Born Collegiate Cross Country Challenge.
"It has been a great trip. The kids have been great. I feel like we were focused and ready to go. We just have to execute better and be ready to put it on the line. You only have a handful of these opportunities so we have to be able to make sure we take advantage of it. We'll continue to talk about those things and do things differently between now and the next time we come back in three weeks so hopefully we'll see some much needed improvement."