Colorado men's cross country hopes Pac-12 title is 'stepping stone' to NCAA crown
OAKLAND, Calif. – Oregon’s Edward Cheserek might have won the battle, but the Colorado men’s cross country team won the war.
On a soggy course at the Oakland Metropolitan Golf Links, Colorado claimed the team title at the 2014 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships on Friday, marking the fourth straight year the Buffaloes have brought home the conference title.
This might be Mark Wetmore’s 19th season at the helm of Colorado’s program, but the veteran coach said the feeling of winning the Pac-12 never gets old.
“I’ve been at this long time and we’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of good things happen to us,” Wetmore said after the men's 8,000-meter race. “It feels great, but I always put it in big perspective and know that we have more work to do in the next couple of weeks.”
Tape-delayed coverage of the Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships will air on Pac-12 Networks and Pac-12.com Monday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. PT.
The top-ranked Buffaloes made good on their quest to go wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the nation heading into the NCAA Division I Mountain Regional on Nov. 14 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and NCAA Nationals on Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.
While Cheserek, the reigning NCAA individual champion, defended his Pac-12 crown with a time of 23:23, Colorado senior Blake Theroux (23:42) led his team with a fourth-place finish. Theroux was the first of five straight Buffaloes to cross the finish line, as Colorado posted an impressive team score of 30. Second-place Oregon (57) and third-place Stanford (60) had a close battle on the podium, while Washington (87) and UCLA (168) also finished in the top five.
Though there were three seniors among Colorado’s entries on Friday, Theroux was the only one to take part in all four Pac-12 Championship teams.
“One thing I like about Blake is that he has bigger team aspirations than he does individual aspirations,” Wetmore said. “He’s always talking about the team first, but I do feel great for him as a senior.”
“I’ve had an opportunity to be here all four years,” Theroux added. “I’ve watched it grow, watched it shift and change, but our goal has always stayed the same. I was lucky enough to learn that mentality from a lot of veteran guys when I was a freshman and we’ve been able to carry it through my sophomore and junior year to this season.”
The Buffs will enter NCAA competition with a big target on their backs as the No. 1 team in the land. But Theroux and Co. are hoping they’re just getting started.
“It’s fantastic,” Theroux said of Friday’s four-peat. “Obviously our goal is to win NCAAs, but to win the Pac-12 is a great stepping stone for us and I hope we can stay focused and keep it going.”
Watch Pac-12 Networks' coverage of the 2014 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships Monday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Networks, Pac-12.com/now and our Pac-12 Now app.