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Colorado Men Repeat As NCAA Cross Country Champions

Nov 22, 2014


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The University of Colorado men's cross country team successfully defended its NCAA championship at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course on Saturday, winning its fifth overall team title.

In total, this is CU's 27th national championship. The ski team has won 19 NCAA titles, while cross country had won seven titles (five men and two women) and football has one championship; 25 of those titles are NCAA Championships. This championship is also the 470th for the Pac-12 Conference.

Led by Ammar Moussa's 5th place finish, Colorado's top five runners all earned All-America honors

CU entered the meet as the top team in the country and lived up to the hype as it did all year. The Buffs put together a score of 65, placing all five of its scorers in the top 40, three in the top 10, to earn All-American honors. The team score is the lowest score since 2005 when Wisconsin won with 37 points. The team runner-up, Stanford, tallied 98 points and Portland was third with 175.  Oregon's Edward Cheserek won his second straight individual title in 30:19.4.

"This is probably our best team ever," head coach Mark Wetmore said. "Again, I had the team that came here with Jorge [Torres] who won and the team that followed it and great other individuals who were followed by good teams but not winners. Certainly, this is the best third, fourth and fifth we've ever had and certainly I think it's the best team score that we've ever had. So, they are real good and they belong in the pantheon.

"I'm really proud of those guys," Wetmore went on to say. "It's is hard to be the favorites, it's so hard to have the attention. It's so hard for nine or ten 21-year-old men to keep their egos in check and they really did it. They were talking each other up the whole time. I think any one of would have sacrificed his day to have a bad day if it would have meant six good days for his teammates. So, that's the biggest feeling I have. Pride, not for me but pride for them."

Only four teams have won the NCAA Championship in the last 10 years and three of those schools have now won back-to-back titles. Oregon won the title in 2007 and 08, and Oklahoma State took home back-to-back titles in 2009 and 10.

Junior Ammar Moussa led CU with a top-five finish to earn his first All-American honor, finishing in 30:29.6. Two other Buffs have top-10 positions. Sophomore Ben Saarel was seventh (30:30.7) and senior Blake Theroux was ninth (30:31.3).

CU's other two scorers were junior Connor Winter (24th, 30:45.0) and junior Pierce Murphy (35th, 30:51.7). Senior Jake Hurysz finished just behind those two, finishing 41st overall (30:57.6). Redshirt freshman Adam Peterman also ran for CU and placed 202nd (32:36.8).

The Buffaloes gather after the race as the NCAA championship starts to sink in.

"It went how I wanted," Wetmore said. "We started out a little slower than I would have guessed but our fellas put themselves in a good position and were smart and patient. As I said yesterday, they were willing to sacrifice individual races for the team goal and some of them may have today. Ammar did amazing. I think that was a wonderful race for Ammar [Moussa]. Ben [Saarel] has had a difficult season trying to get completely healthy and I think he had a great race today. Blake was good. Everybody was good. Out of the men and the women, I can't think of a disappointing race which is so hard to do here."

Moussa and Winter earned their first All-American honors with the finish, while this is the second honor for Saarel and Murphy. Theroux became just the 11th Buff in CU history to earn the honor three times.

The men's race had a very slow pace and it seemed like everyone was looking to the Buffs to lead since they have been running in pack this season. The pace didn't hinder that Buffs since they ran their race plan and no other team's plan.

"When it comes down to it, everybody seems to think we have some kind of magic recipe, some kind of quick fix," Moussa said. "But, that's not what it is. We're out here. We do what we do every day and it's how you want it. If you want us to lead, we'll lead. If you want us to come from behind, we'll come from behind. I don't mean to be like that but we're not worried about anybody else. We're here to run our race and whatever result is given to us is going to be given to us."

Colorado will be very strong again next season. The Buffs will lose Theroux and Hurysz, but will regain senior Morgan Pearson and sophomore Zach Perrin, who were both on the 2013 NCAA Championship team.

Erin Clark was CU's top runnner at 31st to earn All-America honors.

The women's team also had a great performance, coming away with a seventh-place finish at nationals. The Buffs, who were ranked eighth heading into the meet, totaled 267 points, just 18 points from sixth-place finisher Oregon (249).

"That's definitely great. I think all of our ladies ran really hard and really well," sophomore Erin Clark said. "We've been working hard all season. So, I think seventh was a really good showing for us today."

Clark recorded her first All-American honor, placing 31st overall in 20:37.7. She improved from a 97th finish in 2013 as a freshman.

"I wanted get All-American status and I felt that that was really doable if I had a decent race today," Clark said. "So, I went out and got that goal."

Junior Maddie Alm also had a great day, finishing 51st (20:53.0). Freshman Kaitlyn Benner was 81st (21:06.3) and junior Jenny DeSouchet took 95th (21:11.0). Graduate student Sara Sutherland rounded out the team scoring with a 96th place finish (21:11.0).

CU also had two others racing. Annie Kelly was 98th overall (21:11.9) and Mackenzie Caldwell placed 195th (21:54.4).

"Erin [Clark] was wonderful," Wetmore said. "She was where we'd hoped she would be. She's going to be All-American. She's not a highly trained person, she's not a big mileage background. So, she's got a lot of upside. Right behind her, Maddie Alm, who I don't think was ever the number one runner on her high school team. Then coming behind her from the same high school, Kaitlyn [Benner]. The women had a really, really good day. It's going to get lost a little bit in the men but the women had seven good races added up."

Alm was also very pleased with the placing of the team, especially since most of the team except for Sutherland, DeSouchet and Clark, had never been to the meet.

"I feel really great," Alm said. "We've all put in so much work this season, we all worked really hard. I know the beginning of the season was shaky but we definitely got out here today and proved what we could do. We all finished close together and I'm really proud of everyone."

The Buffs return all but one (Sutherland) for the 2015 season.

Iona's Kate Avery won the individual race in 19:31.6 and Michigan State took home the team title with 85 points. 

La Vern Gibson Cross Country Course (Terre Haute, Ind.)

MEN'S TEAM TOP-10 10K RESULTS (of 31 teams):

1. Colorado, 65; 2. Stanford, 98; 3. Portland, 175; 4. Northern Arizona, 188; 5. Syracuse, 206; 6. Oregon, 221; 7. Villanova, 230; 8. Iona, 270; 9. Oklahoma State, 296; 10. Wisconsin, 335


1. Edward Cheserek, UO, 30:19.4; 2. Eric Jenkins, UO, 30:23.2; 3. Futsum Zienasellassie, Northern Arizona, 30:25.3; 4. Maksim Korolev; Stanford, 30:29.5; 5. Ammar Moussa, CU, 32:39.6; 6. Stanley Kebenei, 30:30.1; 7. Ben Saarel, CU, 30:30.7; 8. John Mascari; Indiana State, 30:31.3; 9. Blake Theroux, CU, 30:31.7; 10. Malachy Schrobilgen, Wisconsin, 30:32.6


5. Ammar Moussa, 30:29.6; 7. Ben Saarel, 30:30.7; 9. Blake Theroux, 30:31.7; 24. Connor Winter, 30:45.0; 35. Pierce Murphy, 30:51.7; 41. Jake Hurysz, 30:57.6; 202. Adam Peterman, 32:36.8

WOMEN'S TEAM TOP-10 6K RESULTS (of 31 teams):

1. Michigan State, 85; 2. Iowa State, 147; 3. New Mexico, 188; 4. Georgetown, 189 5. Arkansas, 209; 6. Oregon, 249; 7. Colorado, 267; 8. West Virginia, 277; 9. Iona, 377; 10. Wisconsin, 382


1.Kate Avery; Iona, 19:31.6; 2. Sarah Disanza, Wisconsin, 19:39.9; 3. Emma Bates, Boise State, 19:44.5; 4. Rachele Schulist, MSU, 19:54.3; 5. Rachel Johnson, Baylor, 19:56.8; 6. Dominique Scott, UARK, 20:01.3; 7. Crystal Nelson, ISU, 20:08.5; 8. Katy Moen, ISU, 20:10.5; 9. Shelby Houlihan, ASU, 20:11.4; 10. Chelsea Blaase, Tennessee, 20:11.6


31. Erin Clark, 20:37.7; 51. Maddie Alm, 20:53.0; 81. Kaitlyn Benner, 21:06.3; 95. Jenny DeSouchet, 21:11.0; 96. Sara Sutherland, 21:11.4; 98. Annie Kelly, 21:11.9; 195. Mackenzie Caldwell, 21:54.4