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Nov 14, 2003

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         BOULDER - The third ranked University of Colorado men's cross country and sixth-ranked women's will join every altitude program in the country in competing for the right to advance to this year's national championship when they run in the NCAA Mountain Region Cross Country Championships at the Riverdale (Utah) Golf Course Saturday.

         At stake in Saturday's race are a pair of automatic bids to the NCAA Championships as the top-two finishing teams in each race will advance to the national championships, plus the top four, top-25 finishing individuals in each race, not affiliated with one of the those teams.  The following Monday, 13 additional teams from all nine regions will advance as at-large selections.


         The Colorado men have won nine of the last 11 qualifying races, and 13 overall while the Buff women have won titles in 1986, '87, '94, '96 and 2000, but have been the bridesmaid to BYU four of the last six seasons.  Individually, it's been a decade since a Buff on the men's roster has relinquished the individual crown, as Scott Larson finished fourth in 1993 before the Buffs have claimed nine straight.  CU women have won four individual titles since Brooke Baughman's win in 1992.


         The undefeated Colorado men's team is running with their youngest team in recent history, as freshman Brent Vaughn, five sophomores (Payton Batliner, Casey Burchill, Billy Nelson, Dathan Ritzenhein and Bret Schoolmeester) are making their first ever trips to Utah while junior Jared Scott will be running in his first national qualifying race, and classmate Jon Severy, his third.  Ritzenhein was the individual runner-up two years ago as a true freshman and will be a favorite in Saturday's loop.


         On the other side of the spectrum, six of CU's women running Saturday have run in this race before.  While junior Natalie Florence finished 13th in '01 and ninth a year ago, sophomores Christine Bolf and Jackie Zeigle and junior captain Kendall Grgas-Wheeler ran last year while transfers Renee Metivier was the individual winner of the Southeast Region title in 2001 and Kalin Toedebush finished fifth in the Mid-Atlantic two years ago.  The only true newcomer is redshirt sophomore Laura Zeigle, who ran her first race as a Buff two weeks ago at the Big 12 Championships where she finished 18th.


         The NCAA Championships will be run Monday, Nov. 24 in Waterloo, Iowa on the Irv Warren Golf Course.