EAGLE – The Boise State women’s cross country team was so close it was palpable.
The home-town crowd felt it with each passing update over the speakers at Eagle Island State Park. Less than a mile separated them from their first-ever Mountain West Conference title.
But a late surge by No. 25 Colorado State spoiled the program-defining moment. Five runners in the top-18 wasn’t enough and the Broncos had to settle for second place with 65 points at the Mountain West Conference championships Friday.
“For a team that hasn’t won a championship in a few years, I’m really proud of them,” Boise State cross country coach Corey Ihmels said. That shows a lot of grit. We’ve talked about being the dark horse and being a team that’s not expected to do well. But they came out today and put it all out there.”
Boise State got off to a blazing start. It had five runners in the top-10 alone a little more than a half a mile into the race.
The Broncos maintained all five of their scorers within the top-15 at each of the ensuing checkpoints. They led by more than 30 points at one point.
But that dwindled all the way down to four points during the final stretch.
“It’s really exciting and really stressful,” junior Autumn Ost said. “But it definitely gave me that extra burst of energy because every single person counts when it’s that close of a score. You can’t let anybody pass you.”
Ost took eighth in a time of 20 minutes, 31.1 seconds. It was not only her best time of the season, but her best outing in the women’s 6k race at the Mountain West Championships by far.
Strep throat and the flu resulted in 64th and 30th-place showings during her first two years, respectively. But Ost paced the Broncos all the way through Friday to earn All-MW second-team honors.
“She’s a hard worker. She does everything the right way,” Ihmels said. “She made a big move coming down the hill to really kind of break it open. It may have cost her a little bit in the end, but the gumption to use the course at home and get there and then be aggressive, I’m really proud of her.”
Sophomore Kaiya Robertson and freshman Naomy Lokiles joined her in earning All-MW second-team honors with finishes of 10th (20:36.4) and 13th (20:38.5), respectively. Julia Kielser, who just missed the podium in 16th, did become the first Boise State runner to be named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year in five years.
Colorado State had three runners all finish in the top-7, including Sarah Carter, who won it in 19:48.5. The Rams ended New Mexico’s streak of 15 consecutive Mountain West Championships.
The Boise State men came into the 8k race ranked No. 23 in the country. But left with a third-place result. Its 76 points were well behind New Mexico’s 34 and Air Force, which finished right behind at 36.
The Broncos were never really able to get in sync. Senior Joe Hudson was really the only one of their runners who was able to consistently stay at the front of back. He crossed the finish line in fifth with a season-best time of 23:31.1. It garnered him All-MW first-team honors a year after having to miss the race with a foot injury.
“Very rewarding,” Hudson said. “With the setbacks last year, you feel like you have a point to prove. You want to come back and perform for the team. So it’s nice to put it all together.”
Seniors Tom Graham-Marr (11th) and Tom Patrick (14th) did reach the podium for All-MW second-team honors. But Boise State’s next two finishers were 19th and 26th. It was the still the most All-MW runners the program has had since 2019.
New Mexico freshman Habtom Samuel won the race. His time of 22:57.7 set a new Mountain West Championship record. The Lobos went 1,2 and 3 on their way to a team title.
“They’re disappointed, which is great,” Ihmels said. “We’ve been solid all year long. We gotta be good in two weeks to get to nationals. At the end of the day, we want to win championships.”