BOULDER - The University of Colorado seventh-rated men's cross country team is set to compete at its 21st straight NCAA Championship on Saturday, November 17, in Louisville, Ky. The 23rd-ranked women's team will also be at the championships as they will race in their 20th meet in 21 years.
Neither team qualified automatically this year as both finished third at regionals. They each received at-large bids later that same day to punch their tickets.
Of the 31 men's teams participating, the CU men will face three other Pac-12 opponents in No. 2 Stanford, No. 16 Oregon and No. 22 UCLA. The women have four other Pac-12 competitors in No. 2 Oregon, No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 Arizona and No. 7 Washington. The men won their second Pac-12 title in as many years on Oct. 27, while the women placed fifth.
The women's 6k race is slated for a 10 a.m. (MST) start and the men's 10k race will start approximately at 11:15 a.m. at E.P. 'Tom' Sawyer State Park. An awards ceremony will follow both races. The races will be streamed online at NCAA.com and results will be posted after the races.
After a long stretch of having the championships in Terre Haute, Ind., Louisville will host the championship for the first time. This is the first time in NCAA history that the event will take place in the state of Kentucky. It is also the first time since World War II that the meet will be on a Saturday instead of Monday. Due to the new formula, this is the earliest meet in Division I history.
Junior Jake Hurysz has lead the Buffs in three of its four team scoring meets this season, most recently taking sixth at regionals. Hurysz won the Rocky Mountain Shootout to start the season and placed fourth overall at the NCAA Pre-National Invitational. The only meet he didn't lead the Buffs in was the Pac-12 Championships when he was CU's No. 2 scorer with an eighth-place finish. Sophomore Blake Theroux led CU at the conference meet by coming in seventh.
The CU men were third at nationals last year with 144 points. Richard Medina was eighth to lead CU and had the best finish at nationals for the Buffs since 2007 when Brent Vaughn placed fifth. Andy Wacker was 20th and Joe Bosshard placed 24th. All three earned All-American honors for their finishes.
The Buffs have been ranked as high as second this season due to its depth. The Buffs will not be bringing a single scorer back to nationals this year. Seniors Martin Medina and Aric Van Halen have both run at the championship but have not scored for CU.
On the women's side, junior Shalaya Kipp has once again been the top runner for the Buffs. She made her first appearance of the season at pre-nationals, finishing 21st overall, after taking some time off after competing at the Olympic Games in August. She improved to 11th at Pac-12s, but seems to really be hitting her stride as she was the runner-up at regionals last week.
True freshman Carrie Verdon has been a very consistent No. 2 scorer for the Buffs in her first year. She was third at the Rocky Mountain Shootout, 37th at pre-nationals, 16th at Pac-12s and was seventh at regionals. Several other Buffs have scored for the team this year including Courtney Bouchet, Camille Logan, Jana Stolting, Liz Tremblay and Rachel Viger.
Colorado was 11th overall at the 2011 championship, totaling 335 points. Kipp led the Buffs with a 19th-place finish and Emma Coburn was 20th overall. Both earned All-American honors.
Colorado has a great history at the NCAA Championships. CU took home either an individual or team trophy from 2000-04. Kara Grgas-Wheeler won in 2000, leading the women to their first team championship. The men followed up with a team championship in 2001. Jorge Torres won the individual title in 2002 and Dathan Ritzenhein won in 2003. Both teams took home hardware in 2004 and the men won the title again in 2006.