Cross country takes home fourth place

Brad Schmidt

Both the women and men’s teams finished fourth at last weekend’s Big Sky Conference tournament, giving them confidence as they prepare to compete at the NCAA West Regional in Eugene, Ore.


Freshman Reesey Byers led the way for the men with a 19th place finish. Byer’s top-20 finish was the first ever for a Sacramento State freshman. Following Byers were fellow freshman Zach Kaylor who finished in 21st place and Cole Younger who placed 26th.


“It’s an awesome feeling finishing first on the team,” Byers said. “We have a great group of guys that all finished really close so I was actually surprised about how high I finished. I know I’m just a freshman, but it feels good to lead the team and I’m just happy to contribute.”


Following the three freshmen were sophomores Dan Mitchell and Nathanael Litwiller who finished 32nd and 36th.


The future looks bright for the men as this is the second consecutive meet that they were led by their younger runners.


“We obviously have the foundations of a very special team down the road,” said assistant coach Scott Abbott. “For such a young team to finish higher than any Sac State team ever has is just fantastic. We are so excited for what the future holds for this men’s team.”


Head coach Kathleen Raske said she attributes the young men’s teams’ success to the coaching staff and Abbott’s ability to recruit talented runners.


“Reesey and Zach have been such steady and consistent competitors for us all season,” Abbott said. “They have actually been our most consistent and reliable runners which is so great as true freshmen from whom you may expect some inconsistencies. Ever since they have set foot on campus they have shown that they truly are the right guys to lead this program moving forward.”


The fourth place finish was the men’s team’s highest in school history.


The women’s team was led by their senior Renisha Robinson as she earned an All-Conference finish for the third year in a row. It was Robinson’s 15th all-conference award in her career between cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.


“I feel good about finishing first on the team,” Robinson said. “I”ve worked hard and have dedicated myself to the sport. It’s an honor because everybody finished so close together, that it could have been any of us.”


The women had strong contributions from their younger runners. Freshmen Breanna Lewis had her best race of the season and placed 19th, which is the highest ever among Sac State women.


Following Lewis was senior Lea Wallace who finished 22nd, junior Lora Marchini who placed 26th and senior Erin Lewis who finished 28th.


“Lewis’ great race at the conference championships coupled with the strong performances all season from many of our other freshmen, particularly Lauren Mugnaini, are cause for great excitement for the future of the women’s program despite the loss of some very important seniors off of this team,” Abbott said.


The fourth place finish equaled the women’s second highest conference finish behind their runner-up finish from two years ago.


Looking forward to the regional championships, Abbott says he has not settled on a final line-up yet, but it will be similar to the ones used at the conference championships.


Abbott said his teams are excited about the regional championship.


“We have definitely come a long way as a program,” Abbott said. “We used to be at the very back of this conference and now we are definitely right in the mix. We still have some work to do before we are a team that can contend for a conference title and that is always the ultimate goal.”


Brad Schmidt can be reached at [email protected]