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Buffs Give Great Performances At 30th Rocky Mountain Shootout

Oct 3, 2015

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BOULDER — If Saturday's results are any indication on how the rest of the cross country season will go, it looks like it's safe to say the University of Colorado will have another great one.

The top-ranked men and second-rated women's teams both won the Division I team titles at the 30th Annual Rocky Mountain Shootout. CU also claimed both individual crowns with senior Pierce Murphy and junior Erin Clark taking home top honors.

"I saw two good teams; two teams that are maybe a little better than I expected," head coach Mark Wetmore said. "A year ago, the conditions were perfect and the stars were in alignment and people ran real fast and I didn't expect to come close to those performances again this year since we had the 14 or 15 years prior to last year. But, they did anyway. Despite my apprehensions or superstitions, people ran really fast, comparable to where we were a year ago. They weren't bad."

Both squads recorded perfect team scores (15). The women defeated Wyoming (59), Colorado State (80) and Northern Colorado (82), while the men topped Air Force (50) and Northern Colorado (85).

The women's team started the day off and they didn't disappoint. Clark won the 5.8-kilometer race in 20:13, the sixth fastest time in Buffalo Ranch history. It was also the fastest time recorded since 2009 when former Buff and Olympian Jenny Barringer (now Simpson) set the course record at 19:25. The four times between Clark and Barringer were all set in 2000 when CU hosted the Big 12 Cross Country Championships.

Behind Clark was senior Maddie Alm, finishing second in 20:54. Tabor Scholl, an unattached runner who has signed an NLI to compete for the Buffs, finished third overall in 21:04, breaking up the Buffs top five finishers. CU's next three harriers finished in a pack. Freshman Dani Jones was fourth (21:16), sophomore Lucy May was fifth (21:20) and redshirt freshman Val Constien was sixth (21:25). Sophomore Eryn Blakely didn't add to the team score, but she did quite well with an 11th-place finish (22:04). 

"I think that will be a good strength for us definitely (having five finish together)," Clark said. "We have a strong pack, especially in workouts; a big group of us all together running really fast and long runs. We have so many girls up there running with the top group, so I think depth is going to be key."

"Everyone had a really strong performance," Alm said. "For those who are not from altitude, racing up here is really tough, and they all finished great. I think we are looking really strong going into the season, I am looking forward to it."

Wetmore was very happy with how the women's team performed, despite his predictions that the women will move down in the poll this week after some of the results from the bigger meets.

"Erin Clark looked great winning with nobody to push her," Wetmore said. "A year ago she was chasing people most of the way so she ran only a handful of seconds faster this year. It was basically a solo time trial. Maddie Alm looked good. Dani Jones, a true freshman, looked great and had a lot left in her. She was deliberately careful on this race today coming from sea level and different climatic conditions. Lots of good stuff today.

"They are quite a bit ahead of last year's team," he went on to say. "They are much better than a year ago and they can be high on the podium come November."

The Buffs had a strong showing with the athletes who ran, but a few runners were held out of Saturday's shootout. Junior Carrie Verdon and sophomores Melanie Nun and Tayler Tuttle raced unattached at Metro State's Roadrunner Invitational. All three did well and were led by Verdon, who finished the course in 21:40. Nun placed third overall (22:09) and Tuttle was fourth (22:23).

The men's team followed the women nicely. Murphy finished just one second off his time from last season, crossing the 8k finish in 24:26 for the fifth best time in course history. The win is Murphy's first at the Rocky Mountain Shootout, but he leaves CU with two of the top five times.

"This race is really the first chance to really compete with each other," Murphy said. "We're out there as a team but at the same time, we're out there trying to compete with each other."

Senior Morgan Pearson was the second racer to cross the line in 24:31, the eighth best time in course history. Right behind him was senior Connor Winter, who recorded a huge personal best on the course, finishing third in 24:35. Redshirt sophomore Zach Perrin had a nice performance, finishing fourth in 25:16.

The top seven finishers were all Buffs, although the fifth and sixth place runners were unattached. Freshman John Dressel was sixth in 25:16 and junior Ben Saarel took sixth in 25:18. Redshirt freshman Ryan Forsyth was the final scorer for CU's team score. He was seventh overall, crossing the finish line in 25:19. Another unattached freshman, Joe Klecker, placed ninth overall (25:36).

Wetmore was very pleased with what he saw from the men's race, especially with Forsyth.

"He looked really good," Wetmore said. "He would have not been a contender for our top seven a year ago and he looked like it today. The two freshmen that ran unattached, John Dressel and Joe Klecker looked good enough that we'll have a difficult decision on their redshirts. Connor Winter made a big step. Of the returning varsity guys, he came down almost 30 seconds from year ago."

The men know that they have a target on their backs being the two-time defending NCAA Champions, but they are taking it in stride one meet at a time.

"We talk about it sometimes but it's not something that affects us negatively," Murphy said. "If anything it makes us train harder. It's nice that we're not really hiding anything. Everyone knows we're good and they expect us to run fast so we just have to train hard and stay focused. In any race, any one of us could come first. Every race we have a different CU runner come in first so I feel like it's the same thing this year. Our top five, top six are pretty fit and it just depends on the race."

The Rocky Mountain Shootout was definitely a success, but there is more work to do before the NCAA Championships on Nov. 21.

"Both teams are where we wanted them to be, maybe a tiny bit ahead," Wetmore said. "Now we have to manage the next seven weeks carefully."

The Buffs are back in action in two weeks. Two meets are currently on the schedule, the NCAA Pre-National Invitational in Louisville, Ky. and the Emerald City Open in Seattle.



30th Annual Rocky Mountain Shootout

Buffalo Ranch (Boulder, Colo.)


1. Colorado, 15; 2. Wyoming, 59; 3. Colorado State, 80; 4. Northern Colorado, 82


1. Western State, 21; 2. Colorado Mesa, 48; 3. Gillette, 76; 4. Colorado Mines, 80


1. Erin Clark, CU, 20:13; 2. Maddie Alm, CU, 20:54; 3. Tabor Scholl, unattached, 21:04; 4. Dani Jones, CU, 21:16; 5. Lucy May; CU, 21:20; 6. Val Constien, CU, 21:25; 7. Natasha Bernal, unattached, 21:25; 8. Rachel Gioscia-Ryan, unattached, 21:28; 9. Annie Kelly, UNA-Colorado, 21:37; 10. Alayna Szuch, unattched, 21:51; 11. Eryn Blakely, CU, 22:04; 12. Lauren Hamilton, Wyoming, 22:07; 13. Caroline Braun, UNC, 22:07; 14. Marina Roberts, CSU, 22:07; 15. Isabelle Pape, Wyoming, 22:11



1. Colorado, 15; 2. Air Force, 50; 3. Northern Colorado, 85


1. Colorado Mesa, 33; 2. Western State, 40; 3. Gillette, 68; 4. Colorado Mines, 87; 5. Central Wyoming College, 145


1. Pierce Murphy, CU, 24:26; 2. Morgan Pearson, CU, 24:31; 3. Connor Winter, CU, 24:35; 4. Zach Perrin, CU, 24:53; 5. John Dressel, UNA-Colorado, 26:16; 6. Ben Saarel, UNA-Colorado, 25:18; 7. Ryan Forsyth, CU, 25:19; 8. Festus Lagat, Gilette, 25:35; 9. Joe Klecker, UNA-Colorado; 25:36; 10. Nicholas Harris, CU, 25:41; 11. Christian Martin, CU, 25:41; 12. Felix Smith, unattached, 25:56; 13. Paul Miller, CU, 26:05; 14. Dillon Shije, unattached, 26:09; 15. Ryan Graf, Air Force, 26:18

Other CU Finishers: 47. Chris Herrick, 27:07