Idaho State University Sports Information
LOGAN, Utah – Jenica Dodge became the first Idaho State women’s runner to finish the NCAA Division I Mountain Region Championship in under 21 minutes on Friday, Nov. 10. The senior from Rocklin, Calif. set two school records after crossing the line in 10th-place with 20:25.7 on the clock.
“To have the No. 1, the No. 2 and a bunch of other stacked teams in this region and have her still finish tenth is massive,” said Head Cross Country Coach Nate Houle. “She’s running with some of the best distance runners in the entire United States. It speaks volumes to the progress she’s made here in just two years.”
Dodge’s time is the fastest ran by an Idaho State women’s runner at the regional championships since the distance was changed to 6k in 2000 and her position also ranks first all-time. She became the first ISU runner to earn all-region first team honors since Kylie Hutchison placed 17th in 2014.
Dodge and NAU’s Paige Gilchrist were the only two Big Sky Conference runners in the top ten. Dodge finished 65th with a time of 21:51.5 in the 2016 regional championship.
Based on unofficial projections from FloTrack, Northern Arizona and Utah will not earn team berths to the national championship, which leaves four runners from non-qualifying teams ahead of Dodge. Those runners will receive automatic bids to the championship, which means Dodge must be awarded one of two at-large selections to earn a trip to Louisville, Ky.
Rachel McGovern, Ashley Sondag and Reagan Badger all completed the Steve and Dona Reeder Cross Country Course before the 22-minute mark. McGovern was the second finisher for the Bengals in 57th, while Sondag and Badger finished 74th and 86th respectively.
“Rachel is a completely different person this year,” Houle said. “She was focused and you could see it in her eyes while she was racing. She was hunting people down and that’s the mentality I need on the team so it was really good to see that.”
Molly Olsen was the final scorer for ISU, securing 110th place at the 22:27.4 mark. Samantha Johnston was close behind in 114th and Katie Weedn finished 126th.
The women’s team finished 12th out of 19 teams with 335 points, which is the highest finish for ISU since 2014. The Bengals matched the best turnaround in team history by improving eight positions in one year.
“Next year I lose Jenica, but we’ve got a lot of young talent on the women’s side,” Houle said. “The future is still bright. It’s a stepping stone in the sense that we are still improving with a young team.”
No. 1 Colorado and No. 2 New Mexico finished first and second respectively and No. 18 BYU claimed third.
Men’s Regional Championship
Wyatt Didericksen repeated as ISU’s top finisher at the regional championship. The Eagle, Idaho native finished the 10k at the 31:55.3 mark in 57th.
Jesse Allen concluded the strongest season of his career with a 64th-place finish. He climbed 35 positions and shaved 2:20 off his 2016 regional championship performance.
Joseph Simmons, Ricky Kuciemba and Joseph Petty finished inside the 33-minute mark in 79th, 89th and 91st respectively. Freshman Garrett Condelario was the hundredth runner to cross the line with a time of 33:11.5 and Kyle DeGraaff glided into the finish in 118th-place.
Idaho State tallied 380 points for a 13th-place finish. No. 1 Northern Arizona won the championship for the second-consecutive season and No. 2 BYU and No. 5 Colorado finished second and third respectively.
“We finished much better than last year and we’re getting everybody back,” Houle said. “I’m hoping to get top 10 next year which would be a really big step in the right direction.”
Every returning Idaho State runner recorded a faster finish at this year’s regional championship compared to 2016.
“With this meet specifically, we definitely ended up better than we were last year,” Houle said. “I feel like overall, the data we have shows the women are night and day better and the men definitely seem to be better too, despite our placement at Big Sky. On both sides we hope to establish a continuation of the progress we are seeing.”