Jones leads Colorado women to title as Pac-12 dominates NCAA Cross Country Championships

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Ken Moreland

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MADISON, Wis. – Led by senior Dani Jones’ individual victory, COLORADO women’s cross country won the NCAA team title to headline a dominant performance from the nine Pac-12 programs and four individuals at the 2018 NCAA Championships at Wisconsin’s cold and snowy Thomas Zimmer Championship Course on Saturday.

The national title marked the third in Colorado women’s program history, the national-best 13th for Pac-12 women’s cross country programs, the league’s 29th overall championship in the sport (16 men’s/13 women’s), and the record 514th all-time NCAA team title for the Conference of Champions.

The Colorado men’s team also reached the podium with a fourth-place finish, and STANFORD joined the Buffaloes as the only programs in the country to place their men’s and women’s squads in the top 5 as the Cardinal placed fifth in both races. OREGON’s Pac-12 and NCAA West Regional champion women’s team made the podium in third place to give the Pac-12 three of the event’s eight combined podium spots.

Individually, the Pac-12 led all conferences with 21 combined All-Americans with a national-best 13 top-40 finishers in the women’s six-kilometer race and NCAA-leading eight in the men’s 10k.

Jones became only the fourth women’s individual national champion in Conference history and the first in 17 years by beating out New Mexico’s Weini Kelati by 2.5 seconds. Jones joins former Buffaloes’ runner Kara Grgas-Wheeler (2000) and Arizona’s Amy Skieresz (1996) and Tara Chaplin (2001) as individual national champions from current Conference programs.

All five of Colorado’s scorers – and six CU runners in total – earned All-America honors as the Buffaloes posted the fourth-lowest point total (65) under the NCAA Championships’ current 6k format (since 2001) to knock off two-time defending champion New Mexico (103). Along with Oregon in third, Stanford recorded a third straight top-5 women’s finish, WASHINGTON came in ninth for its best NCAA showing since 2012, and OREGON STATE came in 27th in its first NCAA appearance to cap the best season in program history.

The Pac-12’s 13 women’s All-Americans were just one shy of the league-record of 14 set in 2017. Since expanding to the Pac-12 in 2011, the Conference has amassed 77 All-Americans, by far the most of any league with the ACC second with 35.

Pac-12 Women’s Team Finishes
1. COLORADO – 65
3. OREGON – 160
5. STANFORD – 232
9. WASHINGTON – 321
27. OREGON STATE – 600

Pac-12 Women’s All-Americans (Finish/* - career All-America honors)
Dani Jones, COLORADO (1st)***
Jessica Hull, OREGON (3rd)*
Makena Morley, COLORADO (8th)*
Elise Cranny, STANFORD (11th)**
Weronika Pyzik, OREGON (12th)*
Tabor Scholl, COLORADO (15th)*
Fiona O’Keeffe, STANFORD (17th)***
Katie Rainsberger, WASHINGTON (19th)***
Sage Hurta, COLORADO (22nd)***
Tayler Tuttle, COLORADO (24th)*
Val Constien, COLORADO (30th)*
Carmela Cardama Baez, OREGON (31st)**
Lilli Burdon, WASHINGTON (33rd)**

A Pac-12 men’s program reached the podium for the 13th consecutive year as Colorado (178 points) had three runners place in the top 11 to finish fourth overall behind now three-time defending champion Northern Arizona (83), runner-up BYU (116) and third-place Portland (160). It marked the Buffs’ best finish since a runner-up showing in 2015.

In his final collegiate cross country race, senior Grant Fisher was narrowly edged at the tape by half a second by Morgan McDonald of host Wisconsin to lead Stanford to a fifth-place team finish. It was the Cardinal’s fifth consecutive top-5 showing at the NCAA Championships and Fisher’s fourth All-America honor.

Washington completed its best season in three decades with a sixth-place finish, bettered only by a fourth place in 1989, and Oregon placed 15th.

Eight Pac-12 men’s athletes finished in the top 40 to earn All-America honors, the most of any league in the meet. The Conference has led the nation in All-America finishes in seven of the eight years since expanding to the Pac-12 in 2011 and far outdistances the rest of the country with 68 combined All-Americans over that span.

Pac-12 Men’s Teams (plus champion)
1. Northern Arizona – 83
4. COLORADO – 178
5. STANFORD – 201
6. WASHINGTON – 213
15. OREGON – 407

Pac-12 Men’s All-Americans (Finish/* - career All-America honors)
Grant Fisher, STANFORD (2nd)****
Joe Klecker, COLORADO (8th)**
John Dressel, COLORADO (9th)***
Ryan Forsyth, COLORADO (11th)*
Alex Ostberg, STANFORD (13th)**
Tanner Anderson, WASHINGTON (19th)*
Alek Parsons, STANFORD (30th)*
Tibebu Proctor, WASHINGTON (38th)*

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