BOULDER — The University of Colorado will host the Pac-12 Conference Cross Country Championship, its first Pac-12 Championship in any sport, on Saturday, November 2 at Coal Creek Golf Course in Louisville, Colo.
Admission is free, but due to course regulations, pets will not be allowed. Parking in the main lot at Coal Creek Golf Course will be permit only parking and will not be available to the public. Spectators will be encouraged to park legally in and around the retail lots and residential areas west of Coal Creek Golf Course. There will be a shuttle bus that will drop spectators off at the course and return them to the designated spots. The shuttle will run continuously between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. (Please see the PDF map for more information.)
The men will start the day with their 8-kilometer race at 10:40 a.m. and the women will run 6k at 11:40 a.m. A short awards ceremony will follow the championships at 12:45 p.m. This is the first conference championship the cross country program has hosted since 2000. That year both teams won the team titles, while Buffs Kara Goucher and Jorge Torres took home the individual titles.
The CU men have won the first two Pac-12 team titles since joining the league in 2011. The Buffs won by seven points in 2011, defeating Stanford 46-53 and in 2012 they defeated the field with a score of 49-82, once again with Stanford coming in second. CU is currently ranked No. 1 in the USTFCCCA Division I Coaches Poll. It is the first time Colorado has been ranked on top of the poll since Sept. 5, 2002. In total it is the 12th time CU has been the top team in the land.
CU’s women have also been successful at the Pac-12 Championship, winning the inaugural title 50-73 in 2011 over Washington. Last season the Buffs took fifth. This week the Buffs are ranked 16th overall and are the fourth highest ranked Pac-12 team.
“This is a brand new day, a brand new title, and a brand new team,” head coach Mark Wetmore said. “This CU men’s team has never won any conference title. We are as excited as ever, we are more excited because it’s at home. The women’s team is a very different team from a year ago, but a team that can finish quite a bit higher in the ranks. I think they are now ranked fifth or sixth in the conference, but they will be higher than that.”
The men will be looking for their third straight Pac-12 title at the meet, but winning it won’t be easy as there is a great deal of depth in the league. Behind the top-ranked Buffs is Oregon at No. 4 in the poll and Stanford is 13th. Washington is also ranked in the poll, coming in at 24th.
On the women’s side there are six teams ranked in the top 30. Arizona is the top-rated team and Oregon is second at 12. Washington is ranked 13th and the Buffs are just behind at 16th. Stanford and Arizona State are also in the poll. The Cardinal is 20th overall and ASU is 26th.
Blake Theroux and Morgan Pearson have each led the Buffs this season. Theroux won the Rocky Mountain Shootout and was 22nd at NCAA Pre-Nationals, while Pearson was the top Buff at pre-nats, finishing seventh overall, after placing seventh overall at the shootout. Freshman Ben Saarel has made an immediate impact on the team. He ran the shootout unattached, but finished a very strong second as he was just one second behind Theroux. Saarell was the second Buff across the finish at pre-nats, taking ninth.
Pierce Murphy and Connor Winter have also done very well for CU this season. Murphy was 24th at pre-nats and Winter placed 28th overall. The depth continues down the line for the Buffs as Ammar Moussa returned to the line-up after redshirting the 2012 season; he was 54th at pre-nats. Another freshman, Zach Perrin, is also looking to do well for the Buffs. He was 114th at pre-nationals. Hugh Dowdy did not race at pre-nats, but will also be looking to score for the Buffs. He was 15th at the shootout.
The Buffs won pre-nats in dominate style. The men recorded 90 points in the win to soundly defeat the Oregon Ducks who put together a score of 113 points. The race was 8k and at the 5k mark, the Buffs had a five-point lead over the Ducks at 97-103. CU would move up a couple of positions in the final 3k, while UO dropped a few, earning the Buffs a 23 point victory.
The women are led by senior and three-time All-American Shalaya Kipp. Kipp ran her first race since the Olympic Games at pre-nats, placing 19st overall. The women finished seventh overall at the meet with 223 points. They were only nine points behind the then-No. 6 Oregon Ducks, which totaled 214 points. CU finished in front of Pac-12 rival then-No. 11 Stanford. The Cardinal placed ninth with 275 points.
Sophomore Carrie Verdon has picked up where she left off last year as CU’s No. 2 harrier. She was second at the shootout and placed 22nd at pre-nationals. A pair of freshmen have earned spots on the varsity roster already this year. Erin Clark was third for CU at pre-nationals, finishing 28th overall, and was also third overall at the Rocky Mountain Shootout as an unattached runner. Melanie Nun was the fourth scorer for the Buffs at pre-nats, coming in 57th overall. She was eighth at the shootout in September. Redshirt sophomore Jenny DeSouchet has scored twice this season for CU. She was 13th at the shootout and placed 97th at pre-nats.
The Buffs have also gotten points during the season from Courtney Bouchet and Catrina McAlister. Jana Stolting, Liz Tremblay and Rachel Viger should not be counted out since all three have scored for the Buffs in the past, including at the 2012 Pac-12 Championships.
Both teams certain have the credentials and are prepared for the task at hand this Saturday. The meet should be a very exciting one for the Buffs, other Pac-12 teams and spectators alike.
“One of the fun things about a well-organized cross-country race is you can know the results of the race along the way these days with the computer chips on their shoes or on their bib numbers,” Wetmore said last week at a press conference. “We were losing to Oregon and Stanford halfway at NCAA Pre-Nationals (on Oct. 19) and we ended up beating both of them, but the positions changed throughout the race. We hope to be able to do that at home next week, but Oregon was a close second and Stanford ended up forth. They are really good teams. Maybe the best male collegiate since Henry Rono is at the University of Arizona – a guy named Lawi Lalang. He could win this race by a minute; this is an extremely competitive conference.
“Then, on the women’s side as I said, we are either fourth or fifth ranked in the Pac-12 and yet in the top 16 in the country. The University of Arizona will be going in ranked number one, probably Oregon as number two, Washington as number three, Stanford as number four, and us as number five…something like that. It’s loaded, it’s really loaded.”
The championships will be broadcast tape-delayed on the Pac-12 Network Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. Jim Watson will serve as the play-by-play and Dwight Stone will provide the color. Results will be posted on CUBuffs.com after the conclusion of the event. Fans can follow @cubuffstrack on twitter for in race updates.
There will be a collection station at the championships for the Boulder County Food Bank. Fans who are interested can donate canned food item for Boulder County food banks and flood relief.
Following the conference championships, both rosters will be cut to seven over the next couple of weeks before the NCAA Mountain Region Championships, November 15, in Ogden, Utah, and the NCAA Championships, November 23, in Terre Haute, Ind.
2013 PAC-12 CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP
Saturday, November 2
Coal Creek Golf Course (Louisville, Colo.)
10:40 a.m. (MST) Men’s 8k
11:40 a.m. (MST) Women’s 6k
1 p.m. (MST) Awards Ceremony