Teams prepare for Pac-12 Cross Country Championships

Steve Gotter

Download Complete Release (PDF) | Championships Info | XC Records | Entries: Men  Women

2013 Pac-12 Men’s & Women’s Cross Country Championships
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Coal Creek Golf Course, Louisville, Colo.
Hosted by the University of Colorado

Tape-delayed coverage of the championships will air on the Pac-12 Networks on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. PT. Dwight Stones (analyst) and Jim Watson (pxp) will call the action.

44TH-ANNUAL MEN'S RACE

The Pac-12’s 44th-annual men’s championships will be one of the races to watch in the country with four teams ranked in the USTFCCCA poll, including the No. 1 team in the nation in COLORADO. The Buffs are No. 1 for the first time since 2002 and racing in front of a hometown crowd could be the extra incentive they need to go for a third-straight Pac-12 crown.

Colorado is coming off a win at the Pre-Nationals meet, held at the site of the 2013 NCAA Championships in Terre Haute. The field of 52 teams included eight ranked teams. Two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year Mark Wettmore has called upon juniors Blake Theroux and Morgan Pearson to lead the talented squad.

[Related: 2013 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships event schedule, videos and more]

Looking to snap the Buffs’ Conference-championship winning streak is a strong field, including fourth-ranked OREGON, No. 13 STANFORD and No. 25 WASHINGTON. The Ducks have had impressive performances from freshman Edward Cheserek, placing in the top four of the field for the third time this season.

The Cardinal has had to deal with injuries and an inconsistent lineup, but emerging as the team’s top runner has been freshman Sean McGorty. Stanford’s fourth place at the Pre-National meet, with McGorty placing in the top five individually, bumped it from 29th to 13th in the national poll.

The Huskies appear to be peaking at the right time after turning in a solid performance at the Wisconsin Invitational, a highly competitive meet that featured 30 teams in total, 20 of which were ranked. After a 15th-place showing, UW earned its first ranking in the USTFCCCA poll since 2009. Junior Aaron Nelson has had a breakout season, winning a pair of meets and placing in the top five at the Wisconsin meet.

The favorite in the individual race is, by far and away, ARIZONA’s Lawi Lalang who is going for a third-straight league crown. But so far this season, Lalang has seen limited competition, racing just once this season leading into the league meet. With Lalang on the sidelines, the Wildcats have looked to a couple of freshmen in Matthew Beer and Collins Kibet, as well as junior Sam Macaluso. Kibet is the brother of Elvin Kibet on the women’s team and a countryman to Lalang.

ARIZONA STATE is relying on a veteran group with senior Garrett Seawell leading the pack, along with redshirt sophomore Ryan Herson, redshirt junior Garrett Baker-Slama and redshirt senior Steven Schnieders. Herson is the Sun Devils’ top-returning finisher from last year, and the three redshirts will draw from experience running last year. Seniors have been consistent scorers for ASU.

For CALIFORNIA, J.P. Slater is the only senior in a lineup that has consisted of two sophomores (Thomas Joyce and Leland Later), two redshirt freshmen (Seamus Land and Ned Trim) and a redshirt junior (Jordan Locklear). The Bears are a fairly young squad with Slater pacing the Cal squad in every meet.

WASHINGTON STATE has Todd Wakefield to lean on, an experienced runner, but also junior Lee George who has run consistently this season.

Unlike the veteran squads, UCLA had a pair of freshmen in Austin O’Neill and Nolan Dickson come across as the top finishers in the Bruins’ last meet.

28TH-ANNUAL WOMEN'S RACE

The Pac-12’s 27th-annual women’s championships is set to be as competitive as ever. This race has been extremely challenging the last three seasons and this year does not appear to be any different with half the field coming into the competition being ranked, including the No. 1 team in the nation in ARIZONA.

The Wildcats are 4-for-4 this season, including a win at the prestigious Wisconsin adidas Invitational. UA is a young squad, with two sophomores, a freshman and a senior leading the team. But that does not seem to phase them as Arizona goes for its first-ever team Conference title. Individually, the last Wildcat runner to win the league crown was Tara Chaplin in 2000.

Also ranked in the USTFCCCA poll is No. 12 OREGON, the defending champion. The Ducks won the meet last year for the first time since 1995 then went on to claim the NCAA title. UO is missing a considerable piece from last year’s team in Jordan Hasay. However, junior Megan Patrignelli has turned in strong performances and paced the Ducks all season.

WASHINGTON enters the competition ranked 13th and senior Katie Flood is competing in her final campaign. She was the individual Pac-12 winner in 2011 and has routinely been one of the top Husky performers.

The host COLORADO women are ranked 16th and are looking for a repeat performance from 2011 when the Buffs swept both races. Headlining the Buffs competitors are steeplechase Olympian Shalaya Kipp, who ran in her first cross country meet this season at the Pre-Nationals and was the top Colorado finisher.

STANFORD has only finished lower than third once since 1993. Ranked 20th going into this weekend, the Cardinal still have one of the most experienced squads with junior All-American Aisling Cuffe leading the team this season.

The Sun Devil women entered the final poll of the regular season after a 14th-place finish at Wisconsin Invitational. They are led by junior Shelby Houlihan, the 2011 Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year, who has only raced twice this season but improved upon her season best by 38 seconds at Wisconsin and was fourth overall. Every Sun Devil appears to be hitting their stride after achieving season-best times at Wisconsin two weeks before the Pac-12 Championships.

CALIFORNIA junior Kelsey Santisteban has been the top runner on the team, winning three races. She placed in the top 10 at the Pac-12 Championships last year and earned an individual NCAA bid. OREGON STATE’s Holly Cavalluzzo is a freshman that has made an immediate impact on the squad, turning in top performances.

UCLA junior Kelsey Smith was the leading Bruin finisher at the Wisconsin meet and will look to draw upon her experience at the Pac-12 meet last year to help the Bruins in the standings. The USC Trojans look to build on a two-place improvement at last year’s meet, with junior Erica Capellino leading the way.

UTAH has been dealing with the loss of three-time NCAA participant Amanda Mergaert; however, the core personnel in the lineup this year are juniors who will have to depend on their experience to help the Utes make a good showing. The Cougars, meanwhile, are a young group with just one runner returning with Pac-12 Championships experience in Courtney Zalud.

CHAMPIONSHIPS NOTES

COURSE DESCRIPTION
The men’s 8k race consists of three-2k loops and two-1k loops. The women’s 6k race consists of two-2k loops and two-1k loops. The course consists of rolling fairways, no elevation gain, and several sharp turns.

PAC-12 TELEVISION COVERAGE ... The Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks on a tape-delayed basis. The first airing is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. PT. Dwight Stones will serve as the analyst, while Jim Watson will provide play-by-play. Check local listing for channel and additional air times.

ON-SITE COVERAGE ... Exclusive content on every Pac-12 men’s and women’s cross country team will be available on the Pac-12’s official website at www.pac-12.com. Hover over the ‘Events’ tab on the navigation bar and click on ‘Cross Country’ or click on this link: http://championships.pac-12.com/cross-country/. Previews, as well as real-time coverage on the day of the Championships, will be posted, including live stats as well as Twitter and Facebook updates. At the conclusion of the race, official results and recaps will be posted on the championships page.

2013 PAC-12 CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS MICROSITE ... Links to each institution’s cross country website can be found here: http://championships.pac-12.com/cross-country/. School cross country pages include links to current rosters, results and recent news releases. On the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships webpage, fans can find links to the event preview, recent Conference news and history.

2013 PAC-12 CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS ... See real-time splits and who crosses the line first for the men’s and women’s races with live stats updates on the Pac-12 website (www.pac-12.com) on the cross country championships page (http://championships.pac-12.com/cross-country/). Stats are unofficial until after the championships end, when official final results for both races will be available at the championship page.

CONFERENCE OF CHAMPIONS ... Pac-12 teams have won 20 NCAA Championships. On the men’s side, Conference teams have won 13 national championships, with four teams claiming titles. OREGON has the most NCAA titles of any Pac-12 team, winning six all-time, which also ranks as the fourth-most nationally. Individually, WASHINGTON STATE has had the most individual national champions in the country with seven in total, and four of the top six teams with the most individual champions are Pac-12 teams. The Ducks boasts the third most with five individual national titles, and both COLORADO and ARIZONA claim three. OREGON STATE, USC and UCLA have also had a national champion.

On the women’s side, four different Pac-12 teams have won NCAA cross country team titles, with STANFORD’s five accounting for the second most in the country. OREGON’s three women’s titles, including one last year, are fourth-most all-time, while COLORADO’s two are tied for the fifth most. ARIZONA has had two individual champions, while the Buffs have had one.

POLL NOTES ... With the Arizona women and Colorado men claiming the No. 1 spots in both USTFCCCA Coaches poll on Oct. 22, the duo is the first pair of simultaneous No. 1 teams from the same conference since Stanford’s men and Washington’s women capped off a 23-week stretch of Pac-12 teams holding the polls’ top spots in week seven of the 2009 season.

Four men’s teams are ranked in the latest USTFCCCA Coaches poll. OREGON follows the Buffs at No. 4, followed by No. 13 STANFORD and No. 25 WASHINGTON. The Cardinal jumped from 29th to 13th after a fourth-place showing at the Pre-Nationals meet. Meanwhile, the Huskies earned their first ranking since 2009 after coming in 15th place at the Wisconsin Invitational. ARIZONA STATE is receiving votes.

On the women’s side, half of the Pac-12 field is ranked in the USTFCCCA poll, setting up another tightly-contested race. Leading the way are the Wildcats, who earned their first-ever top billing after winning the Wisconsin Invitational. After that, the next-closest squad is OREGON at No. 12, then WASHINGTON at No. 13. Both the Ducks and Huskies had been in the top six prior to their last meets. Host COLORADO comes in at No. 16, while STANFORD is ranked 20th. Rounding out the league’s women’s teams in the polling is ARIZONA STATE at No. 26.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? ... The NCAA Regional Championships will be Friday, Nov. 15. The Mountain Regional (hosted by Weber State University) will be held in Ogden, Utah, and the West Regional (hosted by Sacramento State University) in Sacramento, Calif. The NCAA National Championships are being held in Terre Haute, Ind. (hosted by Indiana State University) on Saturday, Nov. 23.

NEXT YEAR ... California will host the 2014 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014.