Pac-12 Championships Next For Buffaloes
BOULDER — With the regular season meets complete, the University of Colorado cross country teams will turn their focus to the postseason, starting this Friday, October 29, at the 2021 Pac-12 Championships.
Utah will host the meet this year at the Regional Athletic Complex in Salt Lake City, Utah. 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.
The men's 8-kilometer race will start at approximately 10:10 a.m. and the women's 6k race will follow at 11:10 a.m. Awards ceremonies will follow the women's race at 12 p.m.
The course is fairly flat, basically seven soccer fields put together. According to head coach Mark Wetmore, it is the flattest course he has ever seen and will "basically be a track meet."
"We like some challenges, we like some puzzles to figure out," Wetmore added. "Every team will dream up their own secret strategy. While the elevation might be a bit of an advantage to us, the nature of the terrane is a little bit of a disadvantage because we are training fairly slow up here. It might help some of the speedier, more tracky teams from lower elevations."
Since joining the Pac-12 Conference in 2011, no team has seen the success at this meet that the Buffaloes have. The Colorado men have won seven titles, which includes the first six (2011-16, '19) and the women have won the team crown four times (2011, 2015-17). Stanford ranks second behind CU with five combined titles, three for the men (2017-19) and two for the women (2019-20).
The Buffaloes are the highest-ranked team on each side of the USTFCCCA Division I Coaches Polls heading into the races. Colorado's men jumped up from seventh to third overall after a second-place finish at NCAA Pre-Nationals on October 15, while the women moved up from fifth to fourth with their win at the same meet.
Competition in the Pac-12 is always high and this year is no different. Besides the Buffs, there are three other ranked teams in each poll. In the men's poll, Stanford is fourth while Oregon is 12th and Washington is 26th. The women are followed by No. 8 Utah, No. 18 Washington and No. 23 Stanford. Additionally, Oregon and Oregon State are both receiving votes in the women's poll.
Colorado has earned its rankings this season with strong performances at the Cowboy Jamboree and NCAA Pre-Nationals. The women have won both of those meets while the men placed third at the Cowboy Jamboree (after a tiebreaker) and were second at pre-nats (winning the tie-breaker).
Those finishes have put the Buffs in contention for another pair of team titles but team titles are not won without several solid runners on a team. CU has quite a few on those on both teams.
Most notable is Eduardo Herrera, (who also goes by Lalo), the reigning Pac-12 Champion. The sixth-year senior won the 2020 title this past March 5 by 11 seconds. He is looking to become CU's first male back-to-back conference champion since Jorge Torres, who won titles in the Big 12 from 2000-02. He has led CU in both meets this season, placing second at the Cowboy Jamboree and seventh at pre-nationals.
"Lalo has been training very well," Wetmore said. "He won't mind my saying this, he wasn't brilliant at Florida State (pre-nationals). A couple of guys were ahead of him there that he has beaten in the past, but he was, as I say, in the belly of the beast. He was in the middle of hard training. He will be better rested this time."
On the women's side, Emily Covert and Abby Nichols have both turned in great performances this season to put them in the discussion for the women's title. Most recently Nichols won the pre-national meet, clocking in at 19:46.4 to defeat a pack of five-six women in the final stretch that included Covert, who ended up fifth in that race (19:54.6). Before pre-nats, Covert had led CU in the previous two races, which included a third-place finish at the Cowboy Jamboree.
Following the conference championships, both rosters will be cut to seven before the NCAA Mountain Region Championships, November 12, in Provo, Utah, and the NCAA Championships, November 20, in Tallahassee, Fla.
PAC-12 NETWORK: This will be the fifth straight year the Pac-12 Network will broadcast the championship live on the main network as well as its six regional networks. The events will also be available to stream live for authenticated subscribers via the Pac-12 Now app and Pac-12.com. Jim Watson will handle the play-by-play, while Tim Feuer will serve as the color analyst.
RESULTS: Live results will be available at https://finishedresults.com/meets/3428 and final results will be posted at both CUBuffs.com and https://pac-12.com/cross-country/championships-2021.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Fans can follow @CUBuffsTrack on Twitter for in-race updates. The official hashtag of the meet is #Pac12XC.
2021 PAC-12 CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Friday, October 29
Regional Athletic Complex (Salt Lake City, Utah)
8 a.m. – Venue/course opens
9:50 a.m. - Called to Start – Men
10:10 a.m. - Men's 8k Championship Race
10:50 a.m. - Called to Start – Women
11:10 a.m. - Women's 6k Championship Race
12 p.m. - Awards Ceremony