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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

UC Davis women’s cross country is running the scene

Third-year student-athlete becomes an NCAA Champion while making UC Davis history 

 

By MI’ZAUNI REESE — sports@theaggie.org

 

UC Davis athletes have always been trail-blazing inspirations for the UC Davis community, with many players being leaders in their respective sports. This season, the Davis cross country team has surpassed fan expectations, making headlines and breaking records.

The Aggies led their division this season as they climbed the NCAA ranks and headed toward the NCAA Division I (D1) Cross Country Championships and the NCAA Big West Regional Cross Country Championship. Many of the cross country athletes claimed awards this season, including fifth-year Sierra Atkins, who claimed the 2023 Big West Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year. Last season, Atkins ran an outstanding time of 19:50.3 in the Big West Championship, beating her previous personal record and earning her fourth place in the 2022 meet.

Another outstanding performance this season came from third-year Brianna Wielder who shattered records and made not only school history but national history as well. With an illustrious career as an athlete at UC Davis, winning both the Big West Conference Freshman of the Year in 2021, the Big West Cross Country Athlete of the Year the following year and participating in the 2022 NCAA Championship, Wielder is not unfamiliar with being first to the finish line.

For the second time in her career, on Nov. 22, Wielder was invited to run at the 2023 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship, an intense 6k race where she competed against male and female athletes from around the country in Charlottesville, Virginia. With 31 schools present and 38 individual athletes to race against, the pressure was on to perform as well as she did last season.

After running a record-beating time of 19 minutes and 23.8 seconds for Davis earlier this season and earning both Top 10 and All Regional honors in the NCAA West Regional earlier this month, Wielder was prepared to compete to the greatest of her abilities. Wielder was prepared to represent the team even while fighting the infamous Virginian humidity.

Following her finish in 51st place in the country at last year’s championship, she pushed herself even farther this year, shortening her 20-minute and 17.2-second runtime to an impressive 20-minute and 0.2-second time, putting her at a well-earned 31st place.

The dedication and discipline Wielder exhibited allowed her to run a near 20-minute race, as well as help push her team to secure a 7th place spot. Wielder received All American honors for running the fastest race for Big West Women’s Cross Country since 2016, a first for UC Davis Cross Country history. If that wasn’t enough, Wielder was also named our D1 Women’s All-American, gaining her nationwide recognition for her accomplishments.

It’s safe to say the Aggies had a strong finish to their 2023 season as fans look forward to what is in store when the team returns to the fields next season.

 

Written by: Mi’Zauni Reese — sports@theaggie.org

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