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Cross Country Opens 2021 Campaign at UVU Invitational

Sep 2, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY – Fresh off a spring season, the Utah cross country team is set to open its 2021 season at Lakeside Park this Friday, Sept. 3, at 5:30 p.m. (MT) in the UVU Invitational.
Date: Friday, Sept. 3
Time: 5:30 p.m. (MT)
Where: Lakeside Park (400 S 1850 W, Orem, UT 84058)
Field: Dixie State, Idaho State, Southern Utah, Utah, Utah Valley (Host)
Course Map: View Map
Live Results: Results
Head coach Kyle Kepler will send nine runners to Orem, Utah, with returners in Karli Branch, Emma Earl, Brooke Manson, Natalie Platil and Claire Rusovick. Martina Conner makes her collegiate debut after not racing last spring while freshman Maren Busath looks to make her collegiate debut as well in the 5k race.
In addition, the Women of Utah will feature a pair of veterans that will be making their debuts in the Red and White. Ariel Keklak joins Utah after transferring in from Johns Hopkins by way of Wake Forest while Lisha van Onselen comes to Utah from App State by way of Coastal Carolina. Both Keklak and Onselen earned their bachelor's degree this past spring.
Heading into the first week of competition for cross country, the Women of Utah were ranked sixth in the USTFCCCA (United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association) Preseason Mountain Regional Poll. In addition, the Utes also received 26 votes in the USTFCCCA National Preseason Poll – which sits them at No. 33 in the country.
Of the nine student-athletes that competed for Utah this past Spring at the Pac-12 Championships, the Utes return five in Morgan Jensen, Sophie Ryan, Natalie Platil, Karli Branch and Kennedy Powell. Jensen had a great freshman season and was the second Ute to cross the finish line at the conference championships.
In addition, Utah will have the services of Grace Burnett, Bella Williams and Cara Woolnough – who didn't compete last season for the Utes. Other returners with experience include, Emma Earl, Ellie Lundgreen, Brooke Manson and Kaitlyn Mercer.
Head coach Kyle Kepler replenished his roster with eight newcomers – seven of which have ran collegiately at previous schools before joining Utah. Maren Busath is the lone freshman of the group.
Keelah Barger – Arizona
Hannah Butler – Brown
Ariel Keklak – Johns Hopkins/Wake Forest
Lauren Peterson – Furman
Simone Plourde – BYU
Lisha van Onselen – App State/Coastal Carolina
Emily Venters – Colorado/Boise State
Maren Busath – Palmer Ridge HS
Utah is set to host its first Pac-12 Cross Country Championships since joining the league in 2011 this season on Thursday, Oct. 29, at the Regional Athletic Complex. The men's 8k race will kick things off at the RAC on Pac-12 Networks before the women close things off with the 6k race.
Stanford will look to defend its titles on both the men and women's side and become the first school to sweep the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships on both sides since Colorado did it in 2015 and 2016.
Since realignment, Washington is the only school to have an individual win on the same year it has hosted on the women's side with Haley Herberg winning the 2020 title while Stanford checks in as the only team on the men's side with an individual winner the same year it hosted in Grant Fisher back in 2018. The Cardinal men is also the only team to claim the team title the same year it hosted the championships.

The Utes will get a couple of weeks off before they head to the Pacific Northwest for the Bill Dellinger Invitational hosted by Oregon on Thursday, Sept. 23, at the Pine Ridge Golf Club in Springfield, Ore.