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How Sweep It Is! Buffs Win Men's and Women's Pac-12 XC Titles

Oct 30, 2015

| Complete Results

COLFAX, Wash. —For the second time since 2011, the University of Colorado has won the Pac-12 Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships.

The top-ranked men's team claimed its fifth straight Pac-12 title, defeating No. 23 Stanford, 46-57, while the third-ranked women defeated No. 5 Oregon (45-51) at Colfax Golf Course on Friday morning.

This is the second time since joining the Pac-12, the 14th overall, that CU has swept both men's and women's titles at the league meet. They also did it 11 times as members of the Big 12 Conference and once in the Big Eight era (1992).

"We knew in both races there were formidable opponents, teams that would be better than they had been all season long," head coach Mark Wetmore said. "We knew that we had a chance to win both, probably a slightly better chance on the men's side, but we definitely aspired to do the sweep and it happened."

The men's team started the day for CU and led their race the majority of the way. Coming through the first 2-kilometers of the 8k race, CU was up 33-67 over No. 3 Oregon, who would eventually take third overall. The pack of runners was very tight through the first half, which was to be expected in the strong field that featured six ranked programs.

With 2k remaining, the Buffs had a 47-60 advantage over Stanford. The Cardinal knocked off a few points, but were not able to dethrone the stampede of Buffaloes at the finish.

"The pace was fast the whole way, despite the fact that the geography out here is very hilly," Wetmore said. "Washington State and the town of Colfax had a flat place to host the meet and the pace was rocking. Our guys were out fast the whole way. I was a little nervous because of the way we prepare; I don't usually have us ready to go that fast this time of year. Morgan, Ammar and everyone took a shot of pulling the race and making it hard. I was really proud of them."

Senior Pierce Murphy led the Buffs for the third straight time this season, recording his highest Pac-12 finish, placing fourth. He crossed the line in 23:15.1 after Washington's Izaic Yorks edged him at the finish for third (23:15.0).

"This year we knew we needed Pierce to take a step up," Wetmore said. "He was 35th at nationals last year as our fourth or fifth runner. It looks like he has taken that step this year. He had a good race."

Oregon's Edward Cheserek won his third consecutive individual title in 23:06.3 and Stanford's Sean McGorty was second overall in 23:13.7.  

The Buffs entered the race with a very solid top four with Murphy and fellow seniors Ammar Moussa, Morgan Pearson and Connor Winter, but they didn't have a clear fifth runner until Friday when true freshman John Dressel answered that call, recording a sixth place finish in a stacked field of competitors. Dressel, a Colbert, Wash. native, finished second for the Buffs in 23:19.4 and was just a split second from fifth-place finisher, UCLA's Lane Werley (23:19.1). He was also the highest placing freshman at the meet. 

"We are very happy with John's performance," Wetmore said. "It was way better than what we had hoped for. We needed him to be our fifth man and sweep up from the back of the race and pick people off, but he was right up in the thick of it for pretty much the whole way and gunned down a lot of people.

"He did have the mom advantage," Wetmore went on to say. "His mom and all of his family and friends were here to support him. He ran great."

Moussa finished just a few seconds behind Dressel, taking seventh in 23:22.4. Pearson and Winter also recorded a pair of top-15 finishes to round out CU's score. Pearson was 14th (23:31.9) and Winter took 15th (23:34.3).

The women had a very different race, having to come from behind, but still got the same results as the men. The Buffs were third after the second split with 85 points, but at the next split, they had worked their way up to second with 71 points, which was still 30 behind Oregon. The fourth split put the Buffs just 13 points behind the Ducks (46-59) with 1k remaining. CU did a lot of work in that final kilometer to defeat the Ducks by a narrow margin of six points.

Sophomore Kaitlyn Benner recorded a runner-up finish to lead CU, finishing in 19:55.5, which was just over two seconds behind the Pac-12 Champion, Stanford's Aisling Cuff (19:53.1). Junior Erin Clark took fourth overall, tying her performance from the 2014 meet, this year finishing in 19:58.6.

"Kaitlyn has been step-for-step with Erin in every workout," Wetmore said. "We knew she was better than the pre-national race she had, but we didn't except her to be up this high. It was a real good run for her, but it was not a big surprise."

Sophomore Melanie Nun came in seventh overall, improving from a 14th place finish at the 2013 meet (she redshirted the 2014 season). She came across the finish in 20:11.1.

"Melanie Nun has taken some big steps after time off and is making some progress," Wetmore said. "She placed quite a bit higher in this race than anyone would have expected, including myself. I hope she is excited about."

Senior Maddie Alm was eighth (20:14.5) and freshman Dani Jones was CU's No. 5 harrier, clocking in at 20:38.3 for 24th place. Just behind Jones was junior Carrie Verdon, who finished 27th overall in 20:40.2.

"We were a little worried about a group of Oregon women who ran around Dani Jones, but she held on well," Wetmore said. "Carrie Verdon, who was coming off two years away from cross country, was right behind her and those two really helped us out even though they were a few seconds back."

"We hosted the championships in 2013, so I know how much work it is," Wetmore said. "The people at Washington State and the people at the golf course…it's just hours and hours of work. I was very happy with the course, totally fair for everyone. As a whole, I'm sure the conference and the rest of the teams felt it was well done."

The postseason continues for both CU teams on November 13 at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. 

Friday, October 30
Colfax Golf Course (Colfax, Wash.)

Men's 8k Team Results
1.  Colorado 46, 2. Stanford 57; 3. Oregon 83; 4. Washington 96; 5. UCLA 127; 6. Washington State 137; 7. California 157; 8. Arizona State 218; 9. Arizona 271.

Men's 8k Individual Results (top 10 Individuals)
1. Edward Cheserek, UO, 23:06.3; 2. Sean McGorty, SU, 23:13.7; 3. Izaic Yorks, UW, 23:15.0; 4. Pierce Murphy, CU, 23:15.1; 5. Lane Werley, UCLA, 23:19.1; 6. John Dressel, 23:19.4; 7. Ammar Moussa, CU, 23:22.4; 8. Joe Rosa, SU, 23:23.5; 9. John Whelan, WSU, 23:26.3; 10. Chris Walden, Cal, 23:26.8.

Other CU Finishers:
14. Morgan Pearson, 23:31.9; 15. Connor Winter, 23:34.3; 24. Ryan Forsyth, 23:52.5; 38. Zach Perrin, 24:20.7; 44. Nick Harris, 24:28.6; 53. Paul Miller, 24:50.2; 68. Christian Martin, 25:17.7.

Women's 6k Team Results
1.  Colorado 45; 2. Oregon 51; 3. Stanford 80; 4. Washington 92; 5. Utah 149; 6. Arizona State 162; 7. California 204; 8. Arizona 237; 9. UCLA 241; 10. Washington State 262; 11. Oregon State 321, 12. USC, 361.

Women's 6k Individual Results (top 10 Individuals)
1. Aisling Cuff, SU, 19:53.1; 2. Kaitlyn Benner, CU, 19:55.5; 3. Maddie Meyers, UW, 19:56.8; 4. Erin Clark, CU, 19:58.6; 5. Waverly Neer, UO, 20:00.6; 6. Alli Cash, UO, 20:05.3; 7. Melanie Nun, CU, 20:11.1; 8. Maddie Alm, 20:14.5; 9. Carolina Johnson, UCLA, 20:17.5; 10. Hannah McInturff, Utah, 20:20.4. 

Other CU Finishers:
24. Dani Jones, 20:38.3; 27. Carrie Verdon, 20:40.2; 29. Val Constien, 20:42.5; 53. Lucy May, 21:14.1; 61. Eryn Blakely, 21:24.9