Colorado sweeps team titles at 2021 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships
SALT LAKE CITY - Colorado swept the women’s and men’s team titles at the 2021 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships at the Regional Athletic Complex in Salt Lake City on Friday. It marked the fourth time the Buffs captured both Conference team titles since joining the league in 2011 and first in five years (2011, 2015, 2016).
Individually, Colorado's Abby Nichols and Stanford's Charles Hicks pulled away in their races to emerge as individual champions.
WOMEN’S TEAM CHAMPION - COLORADO
No. 4 nationally ranked Colorado ended a slight drought to claim its first team title since 2017 and fifth all-time. The Buffs have four top-5 finishers and all five scorers inside the top 12 en route to 24 points. It's the best score for a Pac-12 champion since Washington had the top five finishers and won with 15 points in 2008.
Abby Nichols, who was also coming off a win at Pre-Nationals in Tallahassee, Fla., led the Buffs on Friday and followed by Emily Covert in second, India Johnson in fourth, Rachel McArthur in fifth and Hannah Miniutti in 12th.
Host and No. 8 Utah finished second in the team standings with 52 points paced by Emily Venter’s third-place showing. Cara Woolnough was also in the top 10 for the Utes, crossing in 20:55.0 to place seventh. Oregon came in third with 92 points anchored by Alessia Zarbo’s ninth-place effort, No. 18 Washington was fourth with 107 points and led by defending champion Haley Herberg's eighth-place finish, and No. 23 Stanford came in fifth with 120 points behind Zofia Dudek in 10th.
MEN’S TEAM CHAMPION - COLORADO
No. 3 nationally ranked Colorado won its eighth Pac-12 team title overall and second in the past three events, placing all five scorers inside the top 12 and six in the top 13 en route to 39 points. In just 11 years in the league, the Buffs eight championships rank third all-time, trailing only Oregon (16) and Stanford (15).
Defending champion Eduardo Herrera crossed in third, his third career top-10 finish at the Conference meet, while Austin Vancil and Andrew Kent were sixth and seventh, respectively. Charlie Sweeney and Brendan Fraser wrapped up the CU scoring in 11th and 12th to lead the Buffs to the trophy, and followed closely by Stephen Jones in 13th.
Paced by Charles Hicks' impressive individual victory, No. 4 Stanford came in second place with 52 points. With Brian Fay in ninth and Kieran Lumb in 10th, No. 26 Washington placed third with 68 points. No. 12 Oregon was fourth behind Cooper Teare's runner-up finish and Andrew Bienenfeld's fifth-place performance (72 points).
WOMEN’S INDIVIDUAL CHAMPION - ABBY NICHOLS, COLORADO
Nichols was fifth at 2k, fourth at 4k and in a pack with Venters and Covert until she made her move with a little less than 1,000 meters to go. Nichols continued to push and decisively widened the winning gap to 11.3 seconds over her teammate Covert, crossing in 20:25.4.
An All-American in 2020 and eighth and last year's Pac-12 Championships, Nichols becomes the second CU woman to win an individual Pac-12 title, joining Dani Jones, who was champion in both 2017 and 2018.
MEN’S INDIVIDUAL CHAMPION - CHARLES HICKS, STANFORD
The pack dwindled to Herrera, Hicks and Teare, who were 1-2-3 at the 6k split, before Hicks and Teare created some separation with around 1,200 meters to go. The two were even at the final turn 300 meters from the finish, when Hicks took off and ultimately won with an impressive 9.2-second margin in 23:34.9.
Hicks, a 2020 All-American who was second to Herrera at the Pac-12 meet this past March, is Stanford's 10th individual champion all-time and first since Grant Fisher went back-to-back in 2017 and 2018.
The NCAA Mountain and West Regionals will be held Friday, Nov. 12 in Provo, Utah and Sacramento, Calif., respectively, with teams advancing to the 2021 NCAA Championships in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, Nov. 20.