Nichols Earns First All-America Honor; Buffs Record Pair Of Top-15 Finishes At NCAA Championships
STILLWATER, Okla. —Abby Nichols led the Colorado women's team to a seventh-place team finish at the 2020 NCAA Cross Country Championships Monday, recording her first All-American honor in cross country in the process.
Nichols, a graduate transfer from Ohio State, finished 18th overall, improving from 41st at the 2019 championship when she raced as a member of Buckeyes' cross country team.
The men's team also ran at the OSU Cross Country Course and finished 14th overall. Alec Hornecker was the top male, finishing the 10k 59th overall.
The women's 6-kilometer race was run as a tight pack. Through the first kilometer, Nichols was only 2.2 seconds back from the leader, coming through at 3:07.3, which was 60th place. Because of the close pack, she moved down to 82nd at the next split (2k), but again, was not far off the pace.
Midway through the race, Nichols had moved up 31 spots to 51st and after her fastest split of the race (3:22.3), she moved up another 21 positions to 29th. The field was stringing out, so she was 15.0 seconds from the leaders, but she was focusing on her race and kept working her way up. Through the final 2k, Nichols passed another 11 racers to finish 18th in 20:35.8.
"She absolutely had another good day," head coach Mark Wetmore said. "This is her best race of the year and her best race wearing our uniform. She has gotten better every race. She certainly was a highlight. She was an All-American and in the top-20. It was a very nice run for her."
Her finish helped CU record its eighth straight top-10 finish at NCAAs. The Buffs, which were ranked sixth heading into the meet, recorded 279 points, finishing one point in front of Alabama (280) and only five behind No. 3 New Mexico (274). Second-ranked BYU won with 96 points, besting runner-up, No. 5 NC State (161). No. 4 Stanford finished third (207) to lead the Pac-12 and CU was the second-highest conference team. After the Buffs was Washington at 13th and Oregon State at 16th.
"The women weren't wonderful," Wetmore said. "We had one or two highlights, but for the most part, it was not an excellent race. The NCAA is an opportunity to beat people who aren't having excellent races and that is how we ended up seventh. We were a little off our game compared to a lot of other teams. We could have run a lot better. Some people didn't seem ready today."
After Nichols, CU's next finisher was Elizabeth Constien, who finished 72nd overall in 21:18.5. She was 113th after the 2k split but worked her way up 41 spots over the next 4k. Two spots after Constien, and not even a second later, was Madie Boreman. She recorded a time of 21:19.2.
Fourth for the Buffaloes was another transfer, Micaela Degereno. She placed 87th, crossing the finish line in 21:26.7. The final scorer for Colorado was Emily Covert. She came in 96th and recorded a time of 21:29.0.
The other two finishers for CU were Camille Jackson (100th) and Rachel McArthur (166th).
Alabama's Mercy Chelangat won the individual title in 20:01.1.
Like the women, the men were the second-highest finishing Pac-12 Conference team behind Stanford, which placed fifth with 194 points. The Buffaloes entered the championships ranked eighth, but did not fare as well as their ranking. They recorded 398 points to finish 14th. The next best Pac-12 team was Washington, which finished 25th.
Northern Arizona entered the race second and won with 60 points, defeating No. 9 Notre Dame (87).
"For the men, there were very few highlights," said Wetmore. "If seven racers have seven bad races, it has to be on me. In some way, I didn't have them ready. I'm not sure how. We will have to go back to the drawing board in a day, look at what we did and figure out what we did wrong."
Hornecker started the race 65th through the first kilometer but gradually dropped to 89th by the 5k mark. He moved up 20 positions over the next 3k and in the final 2k, moved up 10 more spots, finishing in 31:05.6.
Scoring second for CU was Austin Vancil. He finished 87th in 31:24.4, which was a huge improvement from his 150th place finish from the 2019 championship. Ethan Powell was third for the Buffs with a 95th-place finish (31:30.3). Eduardo Herrera and Paxton Smith were the other two scorers. Herrera placed 107th, while Smith was 117th.
Although they did not score, CU had two other runners finish. Jace Aschbrenner was 183rd and Hunter Appleton placed 195th.
BYU's Connor Mantz was the individual winning, crossing in 29:26.1.
2020 NCAA DIVISION I CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP
Stillwater, Okla. (OSU Cross Country Course)
Women's Team Standings—1. BYU 96; 2. NC State 161; 3. Stanford 207; 4. Michigan State 212; 5. Minnesota 239; 6. New Mexico 274; 7. Colorado 279; 8. Alabama 280; 9. Boise State 304; 10. Arkansas 316; 11. Northern Arizona 318; 12. Mississippi 325; 13. Washington 330; 14. North Carolina 353; 15. Florida State 363; 16. Oregon State 375; 17. Michigan 400; 18. Georgetown 494; 19. Indiana 494; 20. Georgia Tech 508; 21. Illinois 521; 22. Portland 523; 23. Colorado State 533; 24. Oklahoma 536; 25. Iowa State 580; 26. Liberty 611; 27. Duke 624; 28. Tulsa 650; 29. West Virginia 668; 30. San Francisco 688; 31. Furman 761.
Women's Individual 6-Kilometer Leaders (253 finishers)—1. Mercy Chelangat, Alabama, 20:01.1; 2. Taylor Roe, Oklahoma State, 20:06.7; Amaris Tyynismaa, Alabama, 20:10.2; 4. Mahala Norris, Air Force, 20:11.8; 5. Hannah Steelman, NC State, 20:14.9; 6. Taryn O'Neill, Northern Arizona, 20:23.0; 7. Summer Allen, Weber State, 20:23.3; 8. Bethany Hasz, Minnesota, 20:25.2; 9. Kelsey Chimiel, NC State, 20:26.4; 10. Ella Donaghu, Stanford, 20:26.7.
CU Finishers: 18. Abby Nichols, 20:35.8; 72. Elizabeth Constien, 21:18.5; 74; Madie Boreman, 21:19.2; 87. Micaela Degenero, 21:26.7; 96. Emily Covert, 21:29.0; 100. Camille Jackson, 21:29.0; 166. Rachel McArthur, 22:01.8.
Men's Team Standings—1. Northern Arizona 60; 2. Notre Dame 87; 3. Oklahoma State 142; 4. Arkansas 181; 5. Stanford 194; 6. Tulsa 237; 7. BYU 254; 8. Iowa State 265; 9. Southern Utah 270; 10. Iona 311; 11. Utah State 351; 12. Mississippi 373; 13. Butler 379; 14. Colorado 398; 15. Wake Forest 425; 16. Duke 462; 17. Michigan State 463; 18. Wisconsin 464; 19. Air Force 464; 20. Villanova, 468; 21. Portland 472; 22. 22. Georgetown 528; 23. NC State 547; 24. Furman 560; 25. Washington 568; 26. Indiana 572; 27. Gonzaga 594; 28. Charlotte 634; 29. Purdue 741; 30. Syracuse 761.
Men's Individual 10-Kilometer Leaders (237 finishers)—1. Connor Mantz, BYU, 29:26.1; 2. Adriaan Wildschutt, Florida State, 29:48.2; 3. Wesley Kiptoo, Iowa State, 29:54.9; 4. Nico Young, Northern Arizona, 29:58.3; 5. Patrick Dever, Tulsa, 30:00.0; 6. Blaise Ferro, Northern Arizona, 30:02.0; 7. Abdihamid Nur, Northern Arizona, 30:05.3; 8. Isai Rodriguez, Oklahoma State, 30:08.3; 9. Luis Grijalva, Northern Arizona, 30:10.2, 10. Danny Kilrea, Notre Dame, 30:11.5.
CU Finishers: 59. Alec Hornecker, 31:05.6; 87. Austin Vancil, 31:24.4; 95. Ethan Powell, 31:30.3; 107. Eduardo Herrera, 31:35.4; 117. Paxton Smith, 31:39.8; 183. Jace Aschbrenner, 32:36.7; 195. Hunter Appleton, 32:44.4.