Cross Country Prepares for Conference USA Championships

    Taylor Beer and Eryn Barroso
    Taylor Beer and Eryn Barroso
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    Oct. 26, 2011

    HOUSTON - The University of Houston cross country teams will head to the Conference USA Championships, Monday, Oct. 31, at Wildcat Golf Club in Houston, hosted by Rice University.

    " Wildcat is a beautiful setting for this championship," head coach Ryan Turner said. "It's definitely an advantage for us to be competing at home here in Houston."

    On the women's team, senior Megan Munoz will be looking to add to her impressive senior campaign. Munoz has paced the women's team in every race this season, notching her first cross country victory and C-USA Athlete of the Week honor in the process. Junior Kathryn Ducommun has also been a consistent producer for Houston, registering three top-20 performances this season.

    Sophomore Julie Reinwald has come on late for the women's squad. She finished a season-best fifth at the HBU Puma Invitational earlier this month, leading the team to second-place finish.

    " Megan, Kat & Julie have raced exceptionally well," Turner said. "However cross country scores your top five runners not three. We've lacked depth at times in our number four and five spots. Jaime Johnson will be in the lineup for the first time this season so we expect her to step up and help us in that area."

    On the men's side, senior Wesley Ruttoh, freshman Yonas Tesfai and junior David Smith have provided a solid foundation throughout the season. Tesfai and Ruttoh have both notched first-place finishes this season. Tesfai took first at the Rice Invitational in the season opener, while Ruttoh's victory came at Houston's most recent meet, the Cal-State Northridge Invite.

     

     

    Smith, who received C-USA Athlete of the Week accolades following his third-place performance at the HBU Puma Invitational, has established himself as the number three runner for the men's team and has finished in the top-three twice this season.

    " You train all year for the championship part of our season," Turner said. "All we have left are big meets; it's a very exciting time."

    Houston will have its hands full as it faces a tough C-USA lineup.

    The UTEP men's team will look to add to its streak of five conference championships in the last six years. The Miners enter the conference race ranked No. 27 nationally.

    The women's defending C-USA champion Tulsa, who currently ranks fourth in the Midwest Region, will be the team to beat.

    "Our conference is extremely difficult," Turner said. "There are several really strong programs. Tulsa, UTEP, and SMU are always tough to beat, but this is a new season and we're healthy and running well right now."

    The men's 8K event is slated for a 9 a.m., start, while the women's 5K is set for 10 a.m.

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