Women Place Fourth; Men Eighth At NCAA Championships
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Colorado's women recorded their fifth podium finish in seven years at the NCAA Cross Country Championships with a fourth-place finish on Saturday morning at Apalachee Regional Park.
Abby Nichols led the Buffaloes for the second straight year with an eighth-place finish to record her second consecutive All-America honor in as many years. Teammate Emily Covert finished 31st overall and was also awarded All-America honors.
On the men's side, the Buffaloes recorded an eighth-place finish and were led by Eduardo Herrera. Herrera finished 24th overall, earning his second All-America award.
The women entered the race ranked third, but the top four teams in the rankings were not separated by much, meaning it would be a close race. NC State won the 6-kilometer race with 84 points, besting No. 4 BYU which had recorded 122 points. Third-place went to New Mexico, which entered the championship ranked second. The Lobos earned 130 points to finish ahead of Colorado's 187 points. No. 10 Notre Dame ended up fifth overall with 215 points.
"The women finished about where I expected them to finish," coach Mark Wetmore said. "I knew that NC State and New Mexico have been very good. BYU has been good all season. I thought we were a solid fourth. Our women ran well. Of course every year there's always someone that runs a little bit of an off race and other people that rise up. After it all added up we were about where I thought we'd be and I'm happy for them."
Nichols ran a very smart race, just like every race during the season. She worked her way up in the park wisely. But the 2k split, she was 42nd. Nichols' patience paid off and she was up to fifth at the midway point, although at the point the top 20 were separated by less than two seconds.
She continued to run her race and despite a move down to 17th at 4k, Nichols was right on pace with the leaders. With 1k left to run, she was 14th in a pack that was only separated by three seconds in the top 15. In her final push, she moved up three spots to record her second straight cross country All-America honor as a Buff, finishing in 19:37.6. She finished 18th at the 2020 championship, which was an improvement from 41st at the 2019 championship when she ran for Ohio State.
"Abby's wonderful," Wetmore said. "We love her. Everybody loves her. She works very hard and ran a smart race this year. She waited patiently, closed well, and got a really good finish."
Colorado's other female All-American, Covert, was pretty much with Nichols until the very end. Through the first 2k of the race, Covert was in eighth, two seconds ahead of Nichols. She stayed fairly close to that and was 10th at the 3k mark. With 2k remaining, Covert had slipped to 25th, but again, she was right on pace with the leaders like Nichols. She was still 25th with 1k left but had fallen three seconds off Nichols' pace. Despite falling back slightly, Covert ran a very good race and finished strong for 31st in 19:51.8. It's her first All-America cross country honor.
The Buffaloes had another pair finish in the top 60 with Rachel McArthur and India Johnson. McArthur ran a steady race. She was 51st through 2k and ended up 54th overall, finishing in 20:09.4. Johnson, on the other hand, had to work her way up a bit in the pack. At the 2k mark, she was 167th, but at 4k, Johnson had moved up to 100th. She finished four spots behind McArthur at 58th with a time of 20:11.7.
Colorado's fifth runner was Micaela DeGenero, who was 76th overall. She worked her way up well in the pack too. DeGenero was 126th midway through and by the time she crossed the finish, improved 50 positions. Her time was 20:20.2.
Hannah Miniutti, a true freshman for the Buffaloes, finished as the sixth runner. She finished 85th overall (20:25.2). She was the second-highest finishing true freshman in the field behind UNC's Brynn Brown, who recorded a 65th place finish.
"Hannah has worked hard and has been a pleasant surprise all season long," Wetmore said.
Madie Boreman also raced. She finished 96th (20:28.6).
BYU's Whittni Orton won the individual title in 19:25.4, defeating Alabama's Mercy Chelangat who crossed the finish in 19:29.3.
The men's field was also stacked in the 10k race. The Buffs went in ranked fifth and despite finishing eighth, were not far from fifth.
Preseason favorite Northern Arizona won with 92 points, while No. 6 Iowa State was second (137). Third-ranked Oklahoma State placed third (186) and No. 9 Arkansas took fourth (195).
The next four places were separated by 13 points. No. 7 Stanford placed fifth with 236 points, edging 10th-ranked Tulsa by one point (237), while second-ranked BYU was seventh with 246 points, just three more than the Buffs' 249.
"I've known that there were at least two other very good teams and then a big pack of teams that would exchange third through ninth," Wetmore said. "Unfortunately we were at the back of that pack. I thought we would be fifth and we were only 13 points away from fifth. It's just a matter of two points per guy. They weren't terrible, it's just a bad year to be C+ because there are too many good teams out there."
After a few disappointing NCAA Championships, Herrera was able to get some redemption on Saturday with his 24th-place finish as he earned his first All-America honor in cross country since 2017 when he was 33rd.
"Last year's NCAA cross country meet was a big letdown," Wetmore said. "It really took the wind out of his sails. It took him a year to battle back but a nice finish from him today and I'm really pleased."
Running with the lead pack the majority of the race, Herrera knew he just needed to run his race. He was eighth at the 2k split and midway through, he had moved up to sixth. With 2k remaining, Herrera was 21st. He finished the last 2,000-meters in less than six minutes to record a total time of 29:22.0.
Finishing second for the Buffs was Andrew Kent. He just missed All-America honors with a 45th-place finish in 29:34.9. He was 34th heading into the final 1k and despite a final split of 2:59.3, just missed the honor. Stephen Jones finished as the No. 3 scorer, 62nd overall. His time was 29:47.7, which included the fasted final kilometer by a Buff at 2:51.4.
Fourth across the finish was Austin Vancil. He was 70th overall, crossing in 29:55.9. His splits had him between 79th and 64th for a very consistent run.
Brendan Fraser was the fifth runner for CU. He was 85th overall, finishing in 30:04.5 despite having his shoe clipped off early in the race. The heel of his shoe came off but he was able to continue to run with it on. The entire shoe finally came off all the way at the 5.5 mile mark (just under the 9k mark).
Charlie Sweeney was the sixth racer for the Buffaloes, finishing 124th (30:22.1). Alec Hornecker also ran, finishing 202nd (31:10.1).
Connor Mantz of BYU won the championship in 28:33.1 for the second straight year. Wesley Kiptoo (Iowa State) was second in 28:38.7.
2021 NCAA DIVISION I CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP
Tallahassee, Fla. (Apalachee Regional Park)
Women's Team Standings—1. NC State 84; 2. BYU 122; 3. New Mexico 130; 4. Colorado 187; 5. Notre Dame 215; 6. Stanford 233; 7. Minnesota 313; 8. Arkansas 328; 9. Iowa State 332; 10. Ole Miss 350; 11. Washington 366; 12. Wisconsin 376; 13. Oklahoma State 404; 14. North Carolina 405; 15. Alabama 428; 16. Michigan State 438; 17. Colorado St. 455; 18. Georgetown 464; 19. Florida State 468; 20. Utah 483; 21. West Virginia 489; 22. Michigan 500; 23. Northern Arizona 532; 24. Oregon 534; 25. Harvard 541; 26. Providence 594; 27. Villanova 605; 28. Utah State 638; 29. Butler 660; 30. Syracuse 768; 31. Rice 811.
Women's Individual 6-Kilometer Leaders (250 finishers)— 1. Whittni Orton, BYU, 19:25.4; 2. Mercy Chelangat, Alabama, 19:29.3; 3. Ceili McCabe, West Virginia, 19:29.5; 4. Cailie Logue, Iowa State, 19:29.8; 5. Taylor Roe, Oklahoma State, 19:33.5; 6. Kelsey Chmiel, NC State, 19:34.6; 7. Bethany Hasz, Minnesota, 19:36.4; 8. Abby Nichols, Colorado,19:37.6; 9. Maddy Denner. Notre Dame, 19:37.7; 10. Kayley DeLay, Yale, 19:37.7
CU Finishers: 31. Emily Covert, 19:51.8; 55. Rachel McArthur, 20:09.4; 58. India Johnson, 20:11.7; 76. Micaela DeGenero, 20:20.2; 85. Hannah Miniutti, 20:25.2; 96. Madie Boreman, 20:28.6.
Men's Team Standings—1 Northern Arizona 92; 2 Iowa State 137; 3. Oklahoma State 186; 4. Arkansas 195; 5. Stanford 236; 6. Tulsa 237; 7. BYU 246; 8. Colorado 249; 9. Notre Dame 290; 10. Wake Forest 356; 11. Wisconsin 361; 12. Harvard 364; 13. Washington 373; 14. Texas 393; 15. Ole Miss 395; 16. Portland 430; 17. Air Force 453; 18. North Carolina 460; 19. Syracuse 485; 20. Florida State 517; 21. Minnesota 518; 22. Georgetown 566; 23. Princeton 567; 24. Southern Utah 573; 25. Michigan 588; 26. Gonzaga 612; 27. Alabama, 640; 28. Butler 643; 29. Oregon 655; 30. Michigan State 681; 31. Furman 688.
Men's Individual 10-Kilometer Leaders (250 finishers)— 1. Conner Mantz, BYU, 28:33.1; 2. Wesley Kiptoo, Iowa State, 28:38.7; 3. Athanas Kioko, Campbell, 28:40.9; 4. Charles Hicks, Stanford, 28:47.2; 5. Morgan Beadlescomb, Michigan State, 28:50.6; 6. Adriaan Wildschutt, Florida State, 28:52.0; 7. Abdihamid Nur, Northern Arizona, 28:52.9; 8. Casey Clinger, BYU, 28:55.7; 9. Haftu Strintzos, Villanova, 28:57.3; 10. Dylan Jacobs, Notre Dame, 28:57.5.
CU Finishers: 24. Eduardo Herrera, 29:22.0; 45. Andrew Kent, 29:23.9; 62. Stephen Jones, 29:47.7; 70. Austin Vancil, 29:55.9; 85. Brendan Fraser, 30:04.5; 124. Charlie Sweeney, 30:22.1; 202. Alex Hornecker, 31:10.1.