Buffs Ready for Pac-12 Cross Country Championships
BOULDER — After two regular season meets, the postseason will begin quickly for the Colorado cross country teams with the Pac-12 Conference Championships this Friday, March 5, at Chambers Creek Park in University Place, Wash.
Washington is the host for this year's conference meet, The women will race first, kicking off the event with a 6-kilometer run at 12:10 p.m. MT. The men's 8k run will follow at 1:10 p.m. MT. Both races will be followed by a short awards ceremony.
For the fourth straight season, Pac-12 Network will broadcast the championships live. Jim Watson will serve as the play-by-play announcer and Tom Feuer will provide the color.
The Buffs have done well at the conference championship meet in the past and look to continue that tradition. The men enter as the defending champion, but only two runners who scored on that team in 2019 are racing on Friday, so it's a very different team this season.
Of those two scorers, Eduardo 'Lalo' Herrera, has put himself in contention for the individual title after having run two of his best collegiate cross country races this season. He was the runner-up at the FSU Winter Classic to start the season on February 5, and finished third at the Battle Born Collegiate Challenge on Feb. 19 . Head coach Mark Wetmore said after the FSU Winter Classic, "He is a completely different runner than a year ago."
It will be exciting to see what Herrera can do in the field of Pac-12 racers, which includes his teammate, Alec Hornecker, the other returning scorer from 2019. Hornecker was 12th last year at the conference meet, one spot in front of Herrera, and has also had a solid couple of meets this winter. As the No. 2 scorer, he placed eighth at the FSU Classic and was seventh at the Battle Born Challenge.
Other 2019 team members who are returning to the 2020 championship include senior Paxton Smith and sophomore Austin Vancil. New to the varsity roster this season are: Hunter Appleton, Jace Aschbrenner, Noah Hibbard, Ethan Powell and Josh Torres.
The men's team enters the championship ranked ninth and is the third highest-ranked Pac-12 team in the USTFCCCA Coaches Poll. Stanford is the highest at fourth, while Washington is eighth. The only other conference team ranked in the national poll is Oregon, coming in at 12th. In the nine-year history of the Pac-12 Championship, only two teams have won the team title: Colorado (7) and Stanford (2).
So far this season, the men have recorded a third-place finish at the FSU Winter Classic (after the tie-breaker with Iowa State) and a third-place finish at the Battle Born Collegiate Challenge.
The women were fourth in 2019 at Pac-12, but this season they are very experienced and looking to finish higher. Like the men, the roster looks different, but with a twist. Colorado added a pair of graduate transfers in the offseason, giving the Buffs some extra experience. Micaela Degenero raced at Michigan, while Abby Nichols ran at Ohio State.
Those two joined senior Rachel McArthur, who was a transfer in 2019. McArthur led CU with a fifth-place finish at the FSU Classic, while Nichols was the top Buff with an eighth-place finish at the Battle Born Challenge. Nichols was also 24th at the FSU Classic, which was fifth for CU. Degenero was also a scorer for the Buffs at both meets. She finished as the No. 2 runner at the FSU Classic (12th) and was the No. 4 harrier (24th) at the Battle Born Challenge. Another senior, Madie Boreman, recorded a 19th place finish at the Battle Born Challenge, scoring second for the Buffs.
Colorado's younger team members have been keeping pace with the elders. Elizabeth Constien, a sophomore, placed 18th at FSU (No. 4), which was one of the best races of her career. Redshirt freshman Emily Covert has also had a couple of good runs, which includes a 17th placed finish at FSU, just in front of Constien.
As a team, CU won the FSU Winter Classic, defeating Stanford 72-77. At the Battle Born Challenge, the Buffs were fifth.
The CU women enter the meet ranked sixth in the latest USTFCCCA poll, which is behind No. 5 Stanford. Behind those two are No. 12 Washington and No. 24 Oregon State, while Oregon and Utah are both receiving votes. CU has won the most team titles in the field with four, while Oregon has won three. Stanford and Arizona have each won one.
Following the conference championships, the NCAA will announce the field for the NCAA Championships on Sunday, March 7. The championship will follow on Monday, March 15, in Stillwater, Okla. Due to the split season, there will not be a regional championship, so the only way to advance to the NCAA Championship is through the selection process.
RESULTS: Live results will be available at https://live.pntfo.com/meets/6886 and final results will be posted at CUBuffs.com.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Fans can follow @CUBuffsTrack on Twitter for in-race updates. The official hashtag of the meet is #Pac12XC.
2020 PAC-12 CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Friday, March 5, 2021
Chambers Creek Park (University Park, Wash.)
11:55 a.m. - Called to Start – Women
12:10 p.m. - Women's 6000m Championship Race
12:50 p.m. - Women's Awards Ceremony
12:55 p.m. - Called to Start –Men
1:10 p.m. - Men's 8000m Championship Race
1:50 p.m. - Men's Awards Ceremony
USTFCCCA POLLS: The latest edition of the USTFCCCA Division I Coaches Poll was released on Wednesday, March 3, and both of Colorado's cross country teams were ranked in the top-10.
The women moved down one spot from fifth to sixth, switching positions with conference foe Stanford. CU recorded 264 points in the poll, while Stanford received 280. Arkansas and BYU held down the top two spots, respectively, while New Mexico moved up one to third and NC State dropped one to fourth. In the regional rankings, CU is fourth.
On the men's side, CU moved up one to ninth with 231 points. BYU, Northern Arizona and Arkansas stayed put at first, second and third, respectively, while Stanford moved up to fourth, dropping Tulsa down to fifth. Oklahoma State is currently sixth, Iowa State is seventh and Washington is eighth. The Buffaloes are third in the regional rankings.
Full polls are available at USTFCCCA.org.