Clark Wins Pre-Nats, Men Take Team Title
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – University of Colorado junior Erin Clark showed she is going to be a contender for the NCAA Cross Country women’s title this November, winning the individual crown against a strong field at the NCAA Pre-National Invitational on Saturday morning.
“Erin was up in the lead group the whole way and the group kept shrinking,” head coach Mark Wetmore said. “When I saw her with a kilometer to go as they were going into the woods, she was third. When the group came out of the woods, she was first. It was a nice run for her, she beat some good people. This was kind of her emergence as one of the best runners in the NCAA.”
Clark finished the 6-kilometer race in just over 20 minutes (20:00.5) to remain undefeated this season and improved from a seventh place finish at the 2014 meet. She is the first Buff to win pre-nationals since 2009 when Jenny Barringer (now Simpson) took home the victory. Clark was able to hold off Hannah Everson (Air Force), who crossed the finish in 20:01.2. The third-place finisher, Tennessee’s . Chelsea Blaase, finished in 20:02.6.
The second-ranked women’s team finished second overall behind No. 5 Michigan (131-151). The Pac-12 Conference placed three teams in the top four with No. 4 Oregon third (175) and No. 9 Stanford fourth (244).
Sophomore Kaitlyn Benner was second for the Buffs, finishing 15th in 20:22.4. It was a huge improvement for her as she was 52nd last year. Senior Maddie Alm also had a top-20 finish, taking 18th overall in 20:27.8.
Dani Jones, a true freshman, was CU’s No. 4 harrier, placing 62nd (20:54.1). Sophomore Melanie Nun rounded out the team score with a 67th place finish (20:57.0). CU had two other runners in the red race. Junior Carrie Verdon was 92nd (21:05.4) and sophomore Lucy May finished 134th (21:20.4).
“The women didn’t have a totally brilliant day, but some of them are new to this particular style of race, which is 40 something teams, hundreds and hundreds of runners and it’s out very fast, which is an eye-opening experience,” Wetmore said. “I hope their eyes are open now and that they are ready for next time.”
The top-ranked CU men’s team won pre-nationals for the fifth straight year, defeating No. 3 Oregon 91-151. No. 13 Arkansas was third with 164 points.
The Buffs had four runners in the top 25 entering the final 100 meters of the 8k race. Senior Pierce Murphy led the team with a fifth-place finish (23:24.4), just a fraction of a second behind a pair of UTEP runners, Anthony Rotich (23:23.5) and Jonah Koech (23:24.3). Virginia Tech’s Thomas Curtain won the race in 23:18.2.
“Pierce did well and didn’t seem to make any mistakes,” Wetmore said. “There was some traffic, but the next race that is here (NCAA’s), if we make it, will have twice as many good runners, so it will be more crowded.”
Senior Connor Winter was a short way behind Murphy, earning his first top-10 finish at pre-nationals in 23:32.4, improving from 14th a year ago. Seniors Ammar Moussa and Morgan Pearson crossed the finish 14th and 15th, respectively. Both finished in 23:34.8, but Moussa had the slight edge when he crossed the finish.
“I was happy with the front four, although it wasn’t perfect,” Wetmore said. “Some of those guys had to undo some mistakes and get back into position. Now we will also have to decide to do with our fifth and sixth guys.”
Freshman John Dressel made his first appearance in a CU uniform at the meet and placed 46th overall to round out the Buffs score.
“John performed up to my expectation, which was he was a little overwhelmed by the size and pace of the race, but it was good experience and he will certainly be better in the next one,” Wetmore said.
Redshirt freshman Ryan Forsyth was 51st overall (23:57.7), while sophomore Zach Perrin placed 68th (24:07.1).
The Buffs are off next weekend before traveling to the Pac-12 Championships in Colfax, Washington on October 30. Washington State University will serve as the host.
2015 NCAA PRE-NATIONAL INVITATIONAL
E. P. Tom Sawyer Park (Louisville, Ky.)
Top 10 (of 42) Men’s RED Team Scores: 1. Colorado, 89; 2. Oregon, 151; 3. Arkansas, 164; 4. UTEP, 197; 5. Georgetown, 214; 6. Virginia Tech, 223; 7. California, 300; 8. Air Force, 318; 9. Colorado State, 351; 10. UC Santa Barbara, 374.
Top 15 (of 288) Individuals: 1. Thomas Curtin, VA Tech, 23.18.2; Edward Cheserek, OU, 23:22.8; 3. Anthony Rotich, UTEP, 23:23.5; 4. Jonah Koech, UTEP, 23:24.3; 5. Pierce Murphy, CU, 23:24.4; 6. Jonathan Green, Georgetown, 23:28.7; 7. Shaun Thomas, Duke, 23:29.8; 8. Erik Peterson, Butler, 23:31.7; 9. Connor Winter, CU, 23:32.4; 10. Amon Terer, Campbell, 23:32.5; 11. Ben Rainero, Cornell, 23:32.8; 12. Patrick Corona, 23:33.1; 13. Edwin Kibichiy, Louisville, 23:34.0; 14. Ammar Moussa, CU, 23:34.8; 15. Morgan Pearson, CU, 23:34.8.
Other CU Finishers: 46. John Dressel, 23:54.3; 51. Ryan Forsyth, 23:57.7; 68. Zach Perrin, 24:07.2.
8k Open Individual Results (CU Individuals Only out of 133 runners)
(1. Cole Williams, Georgetown, 24:32.4) 6. Christian Martin, 24:48.5; 18. Paul Miller, 25:03.6; 65. Chris Herrick, 25:55.1; 94. Nick Harris, 26:31.1.
Top 10 (of 45) Women’s RED Team Scores : 1. Michigan, 131; 2. Colorado, 151; 3. Oregon, 175; 4. Stanford, 244; 5. Mississippi State, 247; 6. Utah, 350; 7. Georgetown, 381; 8. Weber State, 387; 9. Purdue, 441; 10. Villanova, 457.
Top 15 (of 311) Individuals: 1. Erin Clark, CU, 20:00.5; 2. Hannah Everson, AFA, 20:01.2; 3. Chelsea Blaase, Tennessee, 20:02.6; 4. Sharon Lokedi, Kansas, 20:08.3. 5. Hannah McInturff, Utah, 20:09.0; 6. Erin Finn, Michigan, 20:09.1; 7. Natalie Schudrowitz, Brown, 20:09.4; 8. Waverly Neer, Oregon, 20:11.5; 9. Sarah Feeny, Utah, 20:12.1; 10. Christina Melian, Stony Brook, 20:13.6; 11. Letitia Saayman, Coastal Carolina, 20:15.1; 12. Marta Freitas, Miss St., 20:15.2; 13. Shannon Osika, Michigan, 20:16.5; 14. Rhiawedd Price, Miss State, 20:17.7; 15. Kaitlyn Benner, CU, 20:22.4.
Other CU Finishers: 18. Maddie Alm, 20:27.8; 62. Dani Jones, 20:54.1; 67. Melanie Nun, 20:57.0; 92. Carrie Verdon, 21:05.4; 134. Lucy May, 21:20.4.
6k Open Individual Results (CU Individuals Only out of 126 runners)
(1. Olivia Pratt, Butler, 21:03.5) 10. Eryn Blakely, 21:47.9; 13. Val Constien, 21:53.5