Branch Paces Utah in Season-Opener at UVU Invitational
OREM, Utah – The Utah cross country took second in its season-opener Friday evening at the UVU Invitational and was paced by junior Karli Branch at Lakeside Park.
"I thought we ran really well with it being the first race of the season," head coach Kyle Kepler said. "Our scoring five did a great job from the start, picking up three top-10 finishes. I'm really happy with the way Karli ran and stayed out in front. Lisha had a great start with a good-sized lead and was still able to finish in the top-10 despite an unexpected hiccup. Overall, I thought we did a great job with it being our first race and look forward to training the next 20 odd days before our next race."
Branch had a great start to the year, taking third with a PR time of 18:21.2 to pace the Utes. Newcomers Lisha van Onselen and Ariel Keklak finished one after the other with van Onselen crossing the finish line in seventh (18:49.4) while Keklak came in at 18:52.4 to round out the top-10 finishers for Utah.
Brooke Manson wasn't far off from Keklak, coming in at 19:07.9 for 13th-place. Claire Rusovick made her cross country debut as a Ute and posted a mark of 19:38.3 for 20th. Freshman Maren Busath recorded a top-25 finish in her collegiate debut, checking in at 23rd overall with a time of 19:47.4.
Natalie Platil (20:11.8) and Emma Earl (21:23.4) rounded things out for the Women of Utah, finishing in 30th and 43rd, respectively.
The Women of Utah will now have about three weeks to prepare for their next race, the Dellinger Invitational, on Thursday, Sept. 23, at the Pine Ridge Golf Club in Springfield, Ore.