Pac-12 to crown cross country champions this Friday in Salt Lake City
SAN FRANCISCO - The Pac-12 will crown its first champions of the 2021-22 academic year this Friday, as Utah hosts the 2021 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships at the Salt Lake City Regional Athletic Complex.
RACE SCHEDULE (All times MT)
8:00 a.m. - Venue/course opens
9:50 a.m. - Men called to Start
10:10 a.m. - Men’s 8k Championship Race
10:50 a.m. - Women called to Start
11:10 a.m. - Women’s 6k Championship Race
12:00 p.m. - Men's and women's awards ceremony
For the fifth consecutive year, the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships will be broadcast live on Friday, Oct. 29 beginning at 9 a.m. PT/10 a.m. MT. Both races will air live nationally on Pac-12 Network as well as across all six Pac-12 regional channels. The events will also be available to stream live for authenticated subscribers via the Pac-12 Now app and Pac-12.com. On the call will be Jim Watson and Tom Feuer.
Regional Athletic Complex – Salt Lake City, UT - The Salt Lake Regional Athletic Complex (RAC) is the intermountain west's elite multi-sports venue and is a destination for local, regional and national events. This year's Championships course is a 2k loop that winds its way through the complex's 16 natural grass, sand-based fields. The RAC boasts breathtaking mountain views, has easy access off I-215 and just minutes away from downtown Salt Lake City and the airport.
From a sustainability perspective, the facility reduced water usage in 2021 season by 29 percent. In addition to providing recycling services to all events and facility patrons at no additional cost, the Regional Athletic Complex donates or recycles more than 75 percent of all unclaimed items left at the facility. It also utilized approximately 90 percent recovered and recycled materials for building an on-site canine obstacle course. For more information about Pac-12 Team Green, a first-of-its-kind in collegiate athletics that promotes sustainability efforts taking place around the Pac-12 Conference and its member universities, visit pac-12.com/teamgreen.
While not a ticketed event, parking will cost $10 per car, if using lots inside the Regional Athletic Complex. Cash or credit card is accepted. Parking for fans can be found by entering either the North or South complex entrances, off of Rose Park Lane. The West Lot on Rose Park Lane is designated for team and staff parking only and requires a parking pass.
Just seven months ago, the 2020 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships were contested at chilly, windy and rainy Chambers Creek Park in University Place, Wash., delayed until March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Back on a normal schedule, the 53rd staging of the men's event and 36th of the women's will make its first appearance in Salt Lake City.
The men's title could come down to a battle between the Conference's pair of top-five teams in the USTFCCCA national rankings, No. 3 Colorado and No. 4 Stanford. Either the Buffs or Cardinal have won each of the past 12 Pac-12 championships, with CU capturing seven and Stanford five. The defending Conference champion Cardinal has won three of the past four Pac-12 meets (2020, 2018, 2017), while Colorado has won seven crowns in just its first 10 years in the league.
A Cardinal victory would give the program its 16th all-time Conference title, moving into a tie with Oregon for the most all-time, while an eighth crown for the Buffaloes would move CU past Arizona and into third in Pac-12 title history behind Stanford and the Ducks.
Oregon and Washington also have a shot at halting lengthy team title droughts. Currently ranked 12th, the Ducks have been as high as No. 3 this season, and are aiming for their first championship since 2008. No. 26 Washington spent five weeks at No. 13 and could capture its their second league crown (1993).
The men’s individual race features seven of last season's top-10 finishers, including champion Eduardo Herrera (COLO), No. 2 Charles Hicks (STAN), No. 3 Jackson Mestler (ORE), No. 4 Cole Sprout (STAN), No. 7 Isaac Green (WASH), No. 8 Ky Robinson (STAN) and No. 10 Luke Houser (WASH). Herrera will attempt to become the 12th in Conference history to win consecutive individual Pac-12 titles.
This year, nine who have finished in the top 10 of previous Pac-12 meets are poised to make runs at the league title:
Isaac Green, WASH - 2020 (7th)
Eduardo Herrera, COLO - 2020 (1st), 2017 (10th)
Charles Hicks, STAN - 2020 (2nd)
Luke Houser, WASH - 2020 (10th)
Talon Hull, WASH - 2018 (2nd)
Jackson Mestler, ORE - 2020 (3rd)
Ky Robinson, STAN - 2020 (8th)
Cole Sprout, STAN - 2020 (4th)
Cooper Teare, ORE - 2019 (2nd), 2018 (6th), 2017 (8th)
Hicks and Sprout earned All-America honors at the 2020 NCAA Championships, Teare did so in 2019 and Herrera in 2017. Colorado's Alec Hornecker (2019) is the other former All-American slated to compete.
A hotly contested women's field features two programs making charges up the national polls, the two-time defending Pac-12 champions and another squad that spent three weeks this season in the top 10 of the USTFCCCA national rankings.
Colorado, which spent the early part of the season ranked No. 8, has surged up to No. 4 on the heels of a victory at the Pre-National Invitational in Tallahassee, Fla. on Oct. 15. The host Utes raced to a runner-up finish at the same meet and and improved two spots in the polls to No. 8, less than a month after being among a group of 13 teams receiving votes. The rankings are bests for both programs since Oct. 8, 2019, when the Buffs were No. 3 and the Utes a program-high No. 6.
Utah is attempting to not only to claim its first league title, but to also become the first host to do it since 2006, when Stanford won at Stanford Golf Course.
Stanford spent the majority of the season in the top 10, peaking at No. 3 coming off of its third-place finish at last season's NCAA meet, and is currently 23rd following a 16th-place effort at the Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison, Wis. Two-time defending Conference champions, the Cardinal is going for the first three-peat since Colorado won crowns from 2015-17 and fifth all-time (STAN - 1996-2007; ORE - 1990-92; ORE 1986-88).
Washington, which was in the top 10 in four of six polls this season, currently sits 18th after coming in 15th at the Nuttycombe. A top-four team in every Conference meet since 2002, the Huskies are in search of their first crown since 2009.
Currently receiving votes, both Oregon and Oregon State have been in and out of the polls this season, with the Beavers reaching No. 22 (Sept. 14) and the Ducks No. 24 (Sept. 21).
Should recent history prove telling, the race for the individual title could be thrilling. Four consecutive individual races from 2016-19 were decided by 2.2 seconds or less, until Washington's Haley Herberg won last season in 19:02.5 with a seven-second final margin over Stanford's Ella Donaghu (19:09). A repeat title would make the Husky the sixth back-to-back championship winner in Pac-12 history and first since Colorado's Dani Jones in 2017 and 2018.
Herberg is slated to be one of eight former top-10 finishers at prior Pac-12 meets in the field:
Madison Boreman, COLO - 2020 (10th)
Zofia Dudek, STAN - 2020 (3rd)
Haley Herberg, WASH - 2020 (1st)
Julia Heymach, STAN - 2020 (4th)
Rachel McArthur, COLO - 2020 (5th)
Kaylee Mitchell, OSU - 2020 (7th)
Abby Nichols, COLO - 2020 (8th)
Becca Williams, UTAH - 2019 (7th)
Heymach, Mitchell and Nichols earned their first career All-America honors at the 2020 NCAA Championships along with Washington's Allie Schadler, who did not run at last season's Conference championships. Schadler placed 26th at the national championship cross country meet two days after running the 3k final at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Another All-American in the field is Stanford sixth-year Christina Aragon, who earned the distinction as a freshman in 2016 by placing 38th at the NCAA Championships.