Quotes from cross country head coach Mark Wetmore at Saturday's Colorado Fall Sports Media Day.
How much did winning CU’s first Pac-12 Championships mean to you and the program?
"I’ve been doing this a long time and there are a lot of highlights, but I have to say that that result 10 months ago was pretty high among them. We’ve won conference championships before, but we went in as underdogs against formidable opponents; and so the combination of the debut of the Pac-12 Cross Country meet, the first Pac-12 Championship in any sport, that we were underdogs and that we pretty much hit on all cylinders added up to be a pretty good day. It was fun."
On the returners from the men’s and women’s teams:
"Both genders lost three scorers, either to graduation or because they expended their eligibility, so we have some rebuilding to do."
Do you want to get Boulder into the mix for hosting the Pac-12 meet?
"There is a rotation and actually we are scheduled to host in 14 months; in early November 2013."
Who are some of the younger people who need to fill the shoes of those who are gone?
"The top returning male is Joe Bosshard, but he had major surgery on his hip in May, a torn labarum, which is often up to a year of recovery time. His rehab is going well, but it will be a bit of a miracle is he’s at a level that will make it sensible to use him this fall. Then we go to the next returning top guy from the fall which was a freshman named Ammar Moussa who is very talented and has a great work ethic. But even as a sophomore that is young. He arrived here at 17 and so he is a little young to have the mantle of the top man on his shoulders. And then we are going to our developmental guys. Aric Van Halen took a big step last spring in the steeplechase for those of you who followed our outdoor track season. He was not in our scoring varsity a year ago, but he could be this year. We’ve had a couple of interesting transfers come in, so it will be a new looking team on the men’s side.
"On the women side the top returning Shalaya Kipp, who just came back from London after a wonderful outdoor track season. She will need to take a little rest right now. She is in the same situation as Emma Coburn was a year ago when Emma ran at the world championships in Korea. So Shalaya will disappear for a while and then go back into training. Coach (Heather) Burroughs and I will take a look at her around midseason and see if she is ready to go. After her, the youngster I’m most excited about is Rachel Baptista, she was a scorer for us as a freshman. She has had an excellent summer and could be an important runner for us."
On any chance of redshirting Joe Bosshard:
"Unfortunately he can’t do that since he already redshirted and the NCAA regulations are not in his favor for getting the season back. If the doctors say that he is in condition to run and can help the team we will use him. But he can’t redshirt."
On building the team to for the 2013 Pac-12 Championships:
"Logically one would arrange their recruiting to be loaded up with killer fifth-year seniors, but in the change from one conference to the next and the arrangement of the hosting rotation, we didn’t know we were hosting until nine months ago. There was no opportunity for us to arrange a super team. But I like the young men and women that we have. In the case of female distance runners, it’s not impossible for freshman to come in and be NCAA top level competitors; it doesn’t usually happen with men. If we had a great recruiting year this year, we could have freshman women who could help us in 2013. We could have very competitive teams. We are very excited about hosting the championship, but we are excited about 2012 as well."
Thoughts on nationals moving to Louisville, Ky.:
"I don’t like it being at the same place year after year and it had been in Terre Haute, Ind. nine of the last 10 years. The problem is that the race has been expanded to be so big that few of the old hosts could bid for it. There are really only two places that I’m aware of that can safely, fairly and comfortably host it, and that’s Ames, Iowa and Terre Haute. Louisville is sure that they can and have convinced the NCAA that they can. I’m sure they are working hard to accommodate the 255 or so runners. I’ve never been there so it will be new to us."
On the competition in the rest of the Pac-12 Conference:
"While we are diminished, no one in the Pac-12 returns a monster team. It’s always an extremely competitive conference. I can’t think of a team that returns all five of its starters or a good percentage. In our sport it’s possible to recruit a completely different team in one year. Stanford, Oregon, Washington, Arizona; they will all be good. It will be one of the best conferences in the country."
Experiences from Emma and Shalaya at the Olympics:
"I wish I had them here with me. Shalaya is in town somewhere and just got back from a 28-hour trip from London. She had a wonderful year, but a long year with a full cross country season and an indoor and outdoor season. She was the expected NCAA Champion and lived up to those expectations. She did excellently this year, but I think the season was getting long by the time she got to the Olympics. Her time in the trial rounds wasn’t her best. It’s a unique experience the first time you are there. If you look at the first time experiences of most distance runners in what we call the majors (the Olympics or world championships), usually you need a year to get used the jitters, hype and pressure. I’m with them in the warm up track until 50 minutes to go and then they are taken away to the call rooms in the bowels of the stadium. Normally one begins their warm-up 50 minutes prior, but in this case I give them a hug and tell them to stick to the plan and off they go to stand around in little tiny rooms and look at their opponents. Then with five minutes to go, they walk up the stairway and into the stadium with 85,000 flash bulbs going and chariots of fire blaring on the speakers. It is really something intimidating and scary. Usually you have to go through that once to get the feeling of it. It was a wonderful year for Shalaya and was something she will never forget.
In Emma’s case she ran everything we could reasonably expect. To go through the finals in all of that hype and buildup over the last year and to run the fastest that you’ve ever run is hard. Out of the 15 people that were in the final, I think only four did it. She is tough. Nothing bothers her much."