Four In A Row
OAKLAND, Calif. — For the fourth time in as many years, the top-ranked University of Colorado men’s cross country team won the Pac-12 Championship, soundly defeating the rest of the field on Friday afternoon at Metropolitan Golf Links.
This is the 26th conference crown the CU men have won. It is also the 16th conference championship the men have won since 1996. The Buffs won the Big 12 title 12 straight years (1996-2007), as well as the first four Pac-12 titles (2011-2014).
“I’ve been at this long time and we’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of good things happen to us,” coach Mark Wetmore said. “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.”
For the second consecutive year, the Buffs defeated the rest of the field by 27 points. CU recorded a score of 30 points with runners stampeding to a 4-5-6-7-8 finish. No. 2 Oregon, the runner-up for the second straight year, recorded 57 points. Last year the Buffs defeated the Ducks 28-54 for the same score. Stanford, which is ranked ninth in the nation, was third with 60 points. No. 12 Washington was fourth overall with 87 points.
"Running together in a group really isn't something that we planned,” Wetmore said. “People have asked me that before, but running so close together is not a strategy. They're running five or six individual races, we're just evenly matched. I think that we were smart and patient. The rain didn't really affect us at all during the second half of the race. They had a great run and I'm really happy with them."
Senior Blake Theroux led the Buffs for the third time this season, finishing the 8-kilometer race fourth overall in 23:42. He led the herd of five Buffaloes that impressed the field by finishing within 12 seconds of each other to secure another conference title.
“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.”
“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.”
Theroux has been a member of all four Pac-12 Championship winning teams, although he did not score when the Buffs won the inaugural title in 2011. That year he 28th overall and was CU’s No. 7 runner in that race. Theroux was seventh in 2012 and placed third in 2013.
“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.”
CU’s second finisher was junior Connor Winter at fifth. He was also CU’s No. 2 runner in 2013 where he placed fourth, again behind teammate Theroux. Winter finished the race just two seconds behind Theroux in 24:44.
Junior Ammar Moussa ran a gutsy race and didn’t shy away from leading the pack at a few different times during the race. He led the field at the 5k mark, going through at 14:59. He fell back to second at the 6k split (17:52), but finished the last 2k strong for the sixth-place finish (23:49).
Junior Pierce Murphy was four seconds behind Moussa for seventh place (23:53) and sophomore Ben Saarel was just a second from Murphy for eighth place (23:54) to round out CU’s score.
Senior Jake Huryz placed 19th overall, finishing in 24:14. He finished before Oregon’s fifth-place runner (Cole Watson), who ended up 23rd. Redshirt freshman Adam Peterman also had a nice race for CU. He didn’t score, but he did place 28th in 24:21 in a strong field of runners.
The Buffs took the lead from the beginning of the race. After the first kilometer, they were 15 points up on the field with a score of 47. Halfway through the race, CU had 27 points, a full 60 points ahead of then-runner-up Washington (87). The Buffs lost a little ground, but not much as they went on to record a score of 30.
The No. 7 CU women’s team also had a strong showing at the championship, placing third in a very competitive race. CU recorded 82 points, just eight behind No. 11 Stanford’s total of 74. No. 3 Oregon won the meet with 54 points. Arizona State’s Shelby Houlihan took home the individual title in 19:59.
"I'm pretty happy with the women,” Wetmore said. “We had four or five really good races and one or two that we can improve upon, but this is a difficult conference. To have Stanford near us and Washington behind us were expected. [The Pac-12] always has a contender at nationals so it's just a great conference. We're one or two slightly-better performances away from being ahead of Stanford."
The Buffs were third at the 2k split with 113 points and moved up to second at the 4k split (60) before dropping back to third.
Sophomore Erin Clark led CU with a fourth-place finish. She had a solid race as she was third after the first 2k. She hung on behind the lead pack the entire race and finished strong in 20:19. Clark was 13th in this race in 2013 as a freshman.
"It was a nice step for Erin,” Wetmore said. “She's learned to find her way to the front of the race and expect to be there along with not being afraid of it. The women that finished ahead of her are fantastic runners, one is a contender for the national title and another is one of the best high school runners we've ever seen, so she was excellent today. It was what we hoped for and she can use it to keep growing and get better."
Junior Maddie Alm also had a great showing for CU, finishing seventh. She improved 29 places from her 36th-place finish a year ago. CU’s third harrier was sophomore Annie Kelly, who took 19th in 20:43.
The remaining two scorers weren’t far from Kelly. Junior Jenny DeSouchet was 25th overall (20:52), improving from a 52nd-place finish in 2013, and freshman Kaitlyn Benner was 27th (20:59).
Several other Buffs raced at the meet. Freshman Mackenzie Caldwell placed 44th (21:22) and junior Catrina McAlister earned a 63rd-place finish (21:38). Redshirt freshman Lucy May was 69th (21:43), graduate student Sara Sutherland was 73rd (21:46) and redshirt freshman Eryn Blakely was 87th (22:07).
The Pac-12 Championships will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. MT. Jim Watson will serve as the play-by-play and Dwight Stone will provide the color. Lewis Johnson joins the duo as the on-course reporter.
The Buffs will be back in action at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships on Nov. 14 in Albuquerque, N.M. The top two teams at that meet automatically advance to the NCAA Championships Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.
2014 PAC-12 CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP
Metropolitan Golf Links (Oakland, Calif.)
Men’s 8k Team Results
1. Colorado, 30; 2. Oregon 57; 3. Stanford, 30; 4. Washington, 87; 5. UCLA, 168; 6. Arizona State, 182; 7. California, 189; 8. Arizona, 206; 9. Washington State, 224.
Men’s 8k Individual Results (top 10 Individuals)
1. Edward Cheserek, UO, 23:23; 2. Eric Jenkins, UO, 23:34; 3. Jim Rosa, SU, 23:37; 4. Blake Theroux, CU, 23:42; 5. Connor Winter, CU, 23:44; 6. Ammar Moussa, CU, 23:49; 7. Pierce Murphy, CU, 23:53; 8. Ben Saarel, CU, 23:54; 9. Maxim Korolev, SU, 23:56; 10. Chris Walden, Cal, 23:57.
Other CU Finishers:
19. Jake Hurysz, 24:14; 28. Adam Peterman, 24:21
Women’s 6k Team Results
1. Oregon, 54; 2. Stanford 74; 3. Colorado, 82; 4. Washington, 93; 5. UCLA, 143; 6. Arizona State, 158; 7. California, 185; 8. Arizona, 200; 9. Utah, 241; 10. Washington State, 246; 11. USC, 336; 12. Oregon State, 342.
Women’s 6k Individual Results (top 10 Individuals)
1. Shelby Houlihan, ASU, 19:59; 2. Elise Cranny, SU, 20:04; 3. Bethan Knights, Cal, 20:17; 4. Erin Clark CU, 20:19; 5. Maddie Meyers, UW, 20:21l 6. Frida Berge, UO, 20:25; 7. Maddie Alm, CU, 20:28; 8. Kelsey Smith, UCLA, 20:29; 9. Abby Regan, WSU, 20:30; 10. Waverly Neer, UO, 20:32.
Other CU Finishers:
19. Annie Kelly, 20:43; 26. Jenny DeSouchet, 20:52; 29. Kaitlyn Benner, 20:59; 44. Mackenzie Caldwell, 21:22; 63. Catrina McAlister, 21:38; 69. Lucy May, 21:43; 73. Sara Sutherland, 21:46; 87. Eryn Blakely, 22:07