Dixie State University’s cross-country team faced a competitive field Saturday.
The women’s team placed fourth out of eight teams, over a five-kilometer race. Noelle Hele, a sophomore biology major from Apple Valley, California, led the Trailblazer women to the finish line with her sixteenth place finish and time of 19:36.44.
“I was surprised I was the first out of the [DSU women] to finish,” Hele said. “I’m usually second or even third during practice, so this was really exciting.”
As for the men’s team, Hunter Chamberlain, a sophomore Spanish major from St. George, led the men’s race for the first half of their eight-kilometer race, but ultimately, Chamberlain finished in fourth place with a time of 26:32.73.
“It was a bit scary being out in front,” Chamberlain said. “But I felt like the guys were trying to control the pace and keep it slow, and I wanted to push [the top runners].”
With only 25.9 seconds separating Chamberlain’s finish time from the first place runner’s finish time, he said while it may not have been the smartest decision, he was glad he found out how he ranked against more of the men in his conference bracket.
Overall, the men’s team finished fifth out of the 10 teams that took to the field.
Head coach Justin Decker said he was pleased with the results, even with the teams placing lower in this meet.
“[San Bernardino’s meet] was a much tougher field, and the [men and women] did really well,” Decker said. “With a batch of young runners, performances aren’t as consistent, but I think they are all improving.”
Hele said she attributed the teams’ improvement to their tough practices.
“We’ve all gotten closer after working so hard together,” Hele said. “It’s great to be a part of a supportive team that really sticks together.”
In the wake of DSU’s announcement that all athletics will be moving to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Decker said he had mixed feeling in regards to the change. He said the RMAC was ranked No.1 for NCAA cross-country.
“We’ll do our best, but it will be tough,” Decker said. “But we want to race against the top teams to challenge ourselves and improve.”
The cross-country teams’ next meet will be in Cedar City, Oct. 8, at Southern Utah University’s Color Country Invitational.