From the Coach: Nevada Twilight Classic

Senior Demerey Kirsch
Sept. 1, 2014

By: Kirk Elias

The Nevada Wolf Pack cross country team opened its season with a surprising upset of No. 21 Utah, winning the Nevada Twilight Classic this past Friday. Displaying depth not seen in previous seasons, the Pack's 11th place finisher had a time faster than the teams fifth finisher of a year ago. Though early season cross country meets tend to mean very little come championship time in November, this result, and the team depth displayed, may have more portent than most openers.

Under a molten sunset, the lights kicked on at Shadow Mountain Park in Sparks to a carnival of activity with nine races taking place over the course of the mild evening. The highlighted late evening collegiate women's race had its best field in the eighth running of the Twilight with two Pac-12 teams joining the fun under the lights.

Behind the course record setting performance of UC-Riverside's Raquel Hefflin, Wolf Pack veterans Demerey Kirsch and Emily Myers ran side-by-side from the first steps of the race, running with, what seemed like, a controlled effort that just wore out the rest of the field. Only in the final 600 did Myers display some of her recently acquired speed as she sprinted in ahead of Kirsch.

Nevada senior Caitlin Devitt-Payne ran unattached, as a final decision on redshirting her will come in late September. Had she scored, she would have been the Pack's third finisher, a significant 14 seconds in front of Friday evening's top Utah athlete.

The three upperclass student-athletes were instructed to race from the front while the rest of the Nevada team was to race in two big packs that were to stay together for the first of the three laps, then chase down the field from that point. Freshman Alaina Anderson was the first to break loose, showing her strength on the second lap as she drove up the 300 meter hill on the back side of Shadow Mountain. Anderson finished in eighth, a solid showing from a freshman.

Several Nevada student-athletes had significant improvements from previous Twilight races including redshirt freshman Meagan Wood who ran 39 seconds faster than her high school-best and sophomore Laura Palacios who had a 46 second course personal record. In fact, every Nevada student-athlete who had raced the course previously as a collegian or high schooler, established a new course PR.

Nevada will next race at Santa Clara's West Coast Conference Preview on Saturday, Sept. 13.


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