Cross Country: Runners’ last chance for nationals depends on upcoming performance

Coming off a disappointing finish at the Mountain West Conference Championships, a senior runner said he hopes to make good this weekend on what did not happen at the conference championship meet.Senior Matt Manly and sophomore Festus Kigen will vie for a chance to run in the NCAA National Championship on Saturday when they compete in the NCAA South Central Regional Championship.

Head coach Shawn Winget said the top four individuals not from the winning two teams get an invitation to Nationals.

At the Mountain West Conference Cross Country Championships on Oct. 27, the men’s team finished sixth out of six teams and the women’s team finished eighth out of nine teams. Kigen finished 15th overall in the meet.

“The last minute change in location for conference from San Diego to Albuquerque, N.M., resulted in a drastic change of altitude that really hurt us,” Manly said. “Conference did not turn out as we planned, so we are hoping for a much better showing this weekend.”

The meet will take place in Fayetteville, Ark., on a course the team has run before.

“We ran this course just a few weeks ago at the Chile Pepper Festival, so it is familiar to us and thankfully, at sea level,” Manly said.

Kigen said this weekend and this course provides an opportunity for him to run really well.

“This is a course I have run before, so it is familiar and I know these runners that I will be running against,” Kigen said.

Winget said he wants to get these two guys to the championship.

“These two runners have given this team so much this season,” Winget said. “It would be a great way to end the season – to see them get to go compete in the National Championship.