Three Urban Knights Earn All-Region, Valentine Pepiot qualifies for Nationals
Valentin Pepiot. Photo by Kurtis Monteiro
On a chilly day at snow-touched Amend Park in Billings, Montana, Academy of Art University’s cross-country team battled the best NCAA Division II has to offer in the West Regional Championships.
Three individual performances warranted All-Region honors, led by junior and PacWest Conference Newcomer of the Year, Valentin Pepiot (Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media), whose 15th place finish made him the second ART U male to qualify for Nationals. PacWest Freshmen of the Year Mack Marbas (Fashion) and McKaela Christenson (Fashion Design) both turned in Top 20 results as well.
“On the men’s side, it was everyone’s first time running at Regionals and, on the women’s side, only Kaelyn Harbison had run it before,” head coach Torrey Olson said.
“We weren’t able to attack the plan we had set for ourselves, but that said, I’m very proud of how far the team has come this season to be in the conversation for making Nationals on both sides. We don’t lose anyone next season and I’m really looking forward to the future.”
Both Pepiot and Marbas ran paces just over five minutes per mile and wound up just four spots from one another across the finish line. Pepiot was the fourth highest junior at 31:32.3 in 15th overall and Marbas was the fourth highest freshman at 31:37.6 in 19th.
“I’m really proud of Mack and how he ran,” Coach Olson said. “He didn’t get out where he wanted to be, but as a freshman to have the composure he did and make moves was very significant. He put himself in a position to be an individual qualifier and was just a couple seconds short.”
Of the four ART U women competing, Christenson and sophomore Kaelyn Harbison (Graphic Design) offered strong outings. Christenson went 22:04.8 for 19th place and Harbison followed in 30th with a time of 22:27.4. Christenson was the third highest finishing freshman and earned All-Region honors for a 5:54 mile pace that got her into the top 20.
“On [the] women’s side, I was particularly proud of McKaela and Kaelyn,” Coach Olson said. “Both got out a difficult position to start, but they worked to move up and at one point were 17th and 18th in the race. They attempted to follow the plan that we had set for them.”
McKaela Christenson and Kaelyn Harbison. Photo by Kurtis Monteiro.
Mack Marbas and Valentin Pepiot. Photo by Kurtis Monteiro.