Rustlers trail runners win first-ever raceSep 26, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
Al Lara began the Central Wyoming College cross country program four years ago with a plan -- to build a winning team.
It didn't happen overnight, but the Rustlers finally tasted team victory on both the men's and women's sides of the competition at the annual "Battle of the Borders" against Montana State University-Northern on Saturday.
Both team events were decided by a single point difference, as the Lady Rustlers scored 27 points to the Lights' 28, with the men's race ending with the same margin.
MSU-Northern's Ashley McCready (20:48) and Rachel David (20:58) took the top two spots, but Central's Breanna Beaslen (22:09), Jessica Stewart (22:33) and Jesslyn Monahan (22:48) claimed third, fourth and fifth, respectively, while teammates Rebekah Hutchison (22:58) and Sienna Schuler (23:37) finished seventh and eighth.
Lara was particularly pleased with Beaslen, not only due to her results, but her work ethic.
"Breanna is a tough girl," said Lara, of the freshman from Evanston, who continues to improve her times with each passing race. "She set a new personal record this week and is a real workhorse for us."
For the men, Central's Lukas Mathews won his first college race in a time of 27:46 around the 8-kilometer circuit on the Prairie Farms Golf Course.
According to Lara, the adjustment of running eight kilometers at the college level, as compared to five kilometers in high school is one which is not made without a light bulb finally coming on.
"I really think Lukas is figuring out how to run the new, longer distance," said Lara. "In fact, all our guys are."
The Rustlers' Zack Relf finished third in 28:19, while Dominic Twomey (29:02), Erick Nkunzimana (29:19) and Brayden Wirick (34:12) were sixth, seventh and 11th, respectively.
For Lara, finally winning an event on both the individual and team sides is only the beginning of where he believe his squad can go.
"It's a big deal," said Lara. "We have a young team, which is very gratifying and they're really beginning to believe in themselves."
Central will compete at the Montana State University-Billings Invitational on Oct. 7, before hosting its home race at the Sinks Canyon Center course on Oct. 14.