2015 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships: Colorado women complete sweep, Stanford's Cuffe wins again
COLFAX, Wash. — Running down the home stretch all by her lonesome, Stanford's Aisling Cuffe was right where she belonged. After sitting out last season due to injury, the Stanford cross country star outpaced the competition to claim the 2015 Pac-12 Women's Cross Country Championship individual title Friday, two years after she won it in Colorado.
"It means a lot in terms of just sticking with it and mentally staying in the game for that long," Cuffe said. "Also, I'm really appreciative of every race I get to run. The one thing about being out, is you learn how much you miss racing when you're out. Just enjoying every single race and enjoying being back with my teammates is the best part."
Cuffe also brought home another piece of hardware, as she was recognized as the Pac-12 Cross Country Scholar-Athlete of the Year following the race.
While Cuffe took home the top individual honor, the women from No. 3 Colorado claimed the school's second Pac-12 team title in three years. Not to mention the Buffs completed a sweep of the day, as the top-ranked men's squad took home their fifth straight Pac-12 Cross Country Championship.
Once again, Colorado coach Mark Wetmore's crew has set the bar high heading into the NCAA regional and national championship meets.
"I'm blessed," Wetmore said. "I get wonderful men and young women. We have a great staff and great support at Colorado. It's a lot of hard work, but without that level of support, it wouldn't happen."
Colorado (45) edged out No. 5 Oregon (51) in a close team competition, while No. 10 Stanford (80) rounded out the top three. Following Cuffe (19:53.10) in the 6,000-meter race were Colorado's Kaitlyn Benner (19:55.50) and Washington's Maddie Meyers (19:56.80).
Friday's competition marked the 16th time in 30 years that a school from the Conference of Champions swept the cross country championships, and the first since Colorado accomplished the feat in 2011.
"To be able to do that together and with the guys winning, too, it's a really great feeling." Benner said. "This is something that we've all really thought about wanting to do and thought about how great it would be. So it's really nice that we worked hard enough and pulled it all off."
While Wetmore said it's reasonable to expect his men's side to claim its third straight NCAA championship, he said the women will have to put together strong meets at the NCAA mountain regionals and eventually nationals, where they'll be facing perennial No. 1 team New Mexico.
"It's an optimistic goal for the women," Wetmore said. "New Mexico's very, very good. They probably have to stumble a bit for us to beat them. But we'll try."