Women Record Win At FSU Winter Classic, Men Place Third
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — If the start is any indication of how a season is going to finish, it's going to be another great campaign for the University of Colorado cross country teams.
Colorado's women won the Garnett 6,000-meter race at the Florida State Winter Classic on Friday morning, while the CU men placed third in the Garnett 8k race in their first races of the season.
While the competition might not have been what the Buffaloes are used to, there were several decent teams in the mix, including Pac-12 rival Stanford, which bested the men 67-98. On the women's side, it was a narrow victory for CU against the Cardinal, with the Buffaloes earning the 72-77 win.
Individually Eduardo 'Lalo' Herrera led the men with a runner-up performance, crossing in 23:03.4. Rachel McArthur was the top woman, placing fifth overall (20:19.9).
MEN'S GARNET RACE:
The Buffaloes, who were ranked 13th heading into the race, put together a very consistent race, starting in third and staying there as a team the entire race. They finished in a tie for second with No. 6 Iowa State, as both teams scored 98 points. But after a head-to-head of the top-five scores, ISU was awarded the second-place finish, giving CU third. No. 12 Stanford came away with the team win as all five scorers finished in the top 30.
"For the personnel that we put on the line today, we had a better day than I expected," head coach Mark Wetmore said. "We knew that Stanford would be very good, we knew that Iowa State would be very good. Honestly, I did not expect to tie them. I thought they would beat us a little more than this and they only beat us in the obscure system of the tiebreaker, and we have four-five weeks to go back to work and try to get better. All good runs for those guys. I'm very pleased. We are ahead of where we expected to be.
The day belonged to Herrera, who had one of the best cross country races of his life for his second-place finish. He moved to the front of the pack from the start and continued his way up until he was in third overall, which is where he would stay until he made a move between the 5k and 6k splits, pushing him into second. From there, he would continue to push, maintaining his position for the outstanding finish. He finished a full 13 seconds ahead of FSU's Adriaan Wildschutt. ISU's Wesley Kiptoo won the race in 22:48.8.
"He's had a wonderful last six months," Wetmore said. "He worked so hard this summer when everything was shut down and he was home alone; he had the best summer of his life. He is a completely different runner than a year ago."
Colorado had another top-10 finisher in Alec Hornecker, who recorded an eighth-place finish. Like Herrera, he had a steady race as well. Hornecker was just outside the top-10 before the 2k mark, but by the time the field came through the 3k split, he had moved up to fifth. He held on to that position for another 2k, but dropped back slightly to eighth at 5k. With 1k remaining, he was 10th, but Hornecker was able to pick off a couple of runners to move back into eighth for the Buffs.
Making his black and gold cross country debut, Hunter Appleton was the third Buff to finish and placed 21st in 24:01.9. He worked hard for his position, moving up from 42nd at the first split (1170m). It was an extremely close finish as Appleton was edged at the line by Kansas' Chandler Gibbens, who came in at 24:00.6.
Austin Vancil and Paxton Smith were the other two scorers for CU. Vancil finished 28th overall (24.11.4) after moving up nine spots in the final kilometer. Smith placed 44th and moved up a couple of positions as well in the final stretch to finish in 24:23.2.
The other two racers for the Buffs Jace Aschbrenner, who placed 53rd (24:30.1) and Caleb Niednagel, who was 86th (25:05.2).
"Our whole team is very rusty," said Wetmore. "We haven't had a race since last February, so we are rusty but everyone is rusty. Al (Hornecker) had a good run. Austin had a good run. He was banged up and is just returning. Paxton had his best cross country race for us ever, so did Hunter. Jace is three weeks since he resumed running after an injury. It was a very nice day for them, but it's a big world. In two weeks we go to Las Vegas and face some killer teams, so we can't get our heads too big."
WOMEN'S GARNET RACE:
In the women's garnet race, it was clear from the start that it was going to be between No. 4 Stanford and No. 8 Colorado. From the first split, Stanford had a one-point lead over CU (82-83). The Cardinal increased it and halfway through the race, led 73-85.
But the Buffs overtook Stanford at the 4k split, 72-79, and was able to hang on for the victory over their conference rival. The two Pac-12 schools were the only teams to record scores under 100. The third-place team, Duke, scored 128 points, while Oklahoma State came in fourth with 181 and Iowa State was fifth with 189.
"We were a little better than I thought we would be," Wetmore said. "This was a discovery weekend for everybody. We all have had our hassles and interruption, our shutdowns and restarts. There are four weeks to go. Both teams are hoping to improve, but there were some good races."
A big reason for Colorado's success was the outstanding racing of McArthur, who led for over 3k of the 6k race, although the pack was right on her tail as the women were running almost identical splits. She started in second, behind Amanda Vestri (Syracuse). By the midway point, McArthur overtook Vestri for first, which is where McArthur would stay until the final stretch of the race. In her final 1k split, she recorded a time of 3:21.9, while the four who finished ahead of her clocked in at 3:11.0 or better.
McArthur ended up fifth in 20:20.0 and held off Alabama's Esther Gitahi who was right behind her (20:23.9). Stanford's Ella Donaghu won in 20:07.0 and had the fastest closing split of 3:08.7.
"It was a nice race for Rachel," Wetmore said. "There were pretty much 15 women in a big blob. When it started to stretch out, some people got ahead of her. She's a little rusty in cross country and now we go back to work."
CU's second scorer was Micaela Degenero, a graduate transfer from Michigan. She placed 12th overall and crossed the line in 20:38.8. Her race was very consistent, running between 23-12 the entire race. Degenero was 17th at the first split and moved up to 16th at the second marker before sliding down to 23rd at the halfway point. She chipped away at the field in front of her, picking off a few at a time. By the 4k split, she was back to 19th and at 5k, she was 17th. In the final stretch, she bested another five to finish 12th.
The next pair of Buffaloes, Emily Covert and Elizabeth Constien, came in one second apart. Covert, who was making her CU debut, placed 17th in 20:41.2, while Constien was 18th (20:42.3).
"That was certainly Elizabeth's best race for us," said Wetmore. "It was a very pleasant surprise. She was quite a bit ahead of where I might have guessed. Emily hasn't run a cross country race in over two years, so that was a very good return for her."
The final scoring harrier for CU was another graduate transfer, Abby Nichols. She clocked in at 20:52.7 for 24th in her first race for the Buffs.
The non-scorers for CU in the race also ran quite well. Kaitlyn Barthell placed 39th (21:12.1) and Annie Hill was 40th (21:13.2).
Colorado had athletes race in the men's and women's gold races as well. The men's gold 8k race was first and saw graduate transfer Ethan Powell take the win, crossing the line in 24:51.8. It was a good race for the law student, who came to CU after finishing his eligibility at Kansas State.
"I'm sure he was the fastest law student of the day," Wetmore said. "He is making nice progress and is breathing on the varsity."
Another Buff with a top-10 finish in the gold race was a true freshman, Jake Derouin, who came in eighth in 25:13.1. CU's other finishers were Josh Torres (41st, 26:19.4) and Shaw Powell (49th, 26:51.1).
The women had their share of success in the gold race too, winning as a team and Madie Boreman won the individual title. As a team, CU recorded 22 points in the race to defeat the next full team, North Florida (76), which was easy to do with all five scorers coming placing in the top-eight. In fact, CU had six in the top-10 and eight in the top-15 of the gold race.
"When you juxtapose the gold and garnet race, you see those women are good little varsity runners," Wetmore said. "That women's team in the gold race probably would have been in the top-10 of the other race. So nice races, pleasant surprises again across the board for almost everybody in there.
"Madie had a nice win. It's been a long time for her since the cross country season. She proved herself compared to the women that were selected for the other race. She should be very happy with that run. And the women behind her, every one of them ran well. I'm very pleased with all of them."
Boreman ran one of her best races in the last few years and was joined near the front of the pack for the majority of the way by teammate, and true freshman, Camille Jackson. It was an extremely tight pack at the first split; Boreman and Jackson both came through at 4:02.4 but Stanford's Lucy Jenks was right behind at 4:02.5 with a huge pack.
Things started to spread out a little at the second split (2170m), but again it was Jackson, Jenks and Boreman separated by 0.01 seconds. Boreman and Jenks started to pull away from the field a little bit at each split and with just 1K left to race, they were basically tied with a six-second lead over the rest of the pack. Boreman finished the final 1,000-meters in 3:24.5, while Jenks clocked 3:29.0 and fell back to third as Jacksonville's Hayleigh Palotti tried to close the gap with the leaders. Boreman finished in 21:05.1, holding off Palotto (21:06.1), while Jenk clocked in at 21:09.4.
True freshman Whitney Valenti worked her way up the pack and finished fourth overall in 21:23.0. Jackson ended up sixth (21:37.2) and Kyla Christopher-Moody recorded a seventh-place finish (21:47.4). Two other Buffs recorded top-10 finishes. Carley Bennett was eighth (21:47.4) and Alisa Meraz-Fishbein placed 10th (21:52.6).
Colorado's other runners were Tiya Chamberlin (12th, 21:54.8); Sarah O'Sullivan (15th, 22:01.0) and Olivia Brooks (19th, 22:12.0).
"Overall we did a little better than we thought," Wetmore said. "There are a lot of young people when you pour through all of the years [on the results]. You are going to see a lot of freshmen and redshirt freshmen, so good stuff coming in a month and coming in the next few years."
UP NEXT: The Buffs head to Las Vegas for the High Roller Invitational, February 20.
Florida State Winter Cross Country Classic
Tallahassee, Fla. (Apalachee Regional Park)
Garnett Men's Race (8k)
Team Results (Top 10 of 20)
1. Stanford 67; 2. Iowa State 98; *3. Colorado 98; 4. Utah State 160; 5. Wake Forest 184; 6. Duke 190; 7. Florida State 196; 8. Syracuse 202; 9. Southern Utah 212; 10. CBU 246.
*Placed third after a tiebreaker
Individual Results (Top 10 Individuals of 142)
1. Wesley Kiptoo, Iowa State, 22:48.8; 2. Eduardo Herrera, Colorado, 23:03.4; 3. Adriaan Wildschutt, FSU, 23:16.7; 4. Zach Facioni, Wake Forest, 23:25.0; 5. Cole Sprout, Stanford, 23:31.6; 6. Charles Hicks, Stanford, 23:36.0; 7. Shea Foster, SE Louisiana, 23:40.6; 8. Alec Hornecker, Colorado, 23:45.6; 9. Karl Theissen, Tennessee, 23:47.1; 10. James Sugira, Eastern Kentucky, 23:48.6.
Individual Results (CU Athletes Only)
21. Hunter Appleton, 24:01.9; 28. Austin Vancil, 24:11.4; 44. Paxton Smith, 24:23.2; 53. Jace Aschbrenner, 24:30.1; 86. Caleb Neidnagel, 25:05.2
Gold Men's Race CU Individuals (8k)
1. Ethan Powell, 24:51.8; 8. Jake Derouin, 25:13.1; 41. Josh Torres, 26:19.4; 49. Shaw Powell, 26:51.1
Garnet Women's Race (6k)
Team Results (Top 10 of 18)
1. Colorado 72; 2. Stanford 77; 3. Duke 128; 4. Oklahoma State 181; 5. Iowa State 189; 6. West Virginia 200; 7. Liberty 207; 8. Notre Dame 209; 9. Utah State 235; 10. Tennessee 264.
Individual Results (Top 10 Individuals of 126)
1. Ella Donaghu, Stanford, 20:07.0; 2. Cailie Logue, Iowa State, 20:09.1; 3. Zofia Dudek, Stanford, 20:09.1; 4. Taylor Roe, Oklahoma State, 20:10.0; 5. Rachel McArthur, Colorado, 20:19.9; 6. Esther Gitahi, Alabama, 20:23.9; 7. Amanda Vestri, Syracuse, 20:25.7; 8. Ceili McCabe, West Virginia, 20:31.2; 9. Sydney Seymour, Tennessee, 20:33.4; 10. Julia Heymach, Stanford, 20:36.4.
Individual Results (CU Athletes Only)
12. Michaela Degenero, 20:38.8; 17. Emily Covert, 20:41.2; 18. Elizabeth Constien, 20:42.3; 24. Abby Nichols, 20:52.7; 39. Kaitlyn Barthell, 21:12.1; 40. Annie Hill, 21:13.2.
Gold Women's Race (6k)
1. Colorado 22; 2. North Florida 76; 3. Youngstown State 107; 4. New Orleans 126; 5. Jacksonville 134; 6. Nicholls State 145; 7. Tennessee-Martin 154; 8. Tennessee Tech 196
CU Individual Results
1. Madie Boreman, 21:05.1; 4. Whitney Valenti, 21:23.0; 6. Camille Jackston, 21:37.2; 7. Kyla Christopher-Moody, 21:47.2; 8. Carley Bennett, 21:47.4; 10. Alisa Meraz-Fishbein, 21:52.6; 12. Tiya Chamberlin, 21:54.8; 15. Sarah O'Sullivan. 22:01.0; 19. Olivia Brooks, 22:12.0.