Buffs Exceed Expectations In Opening Race
BOULDER — The University of Colorado cross country teams exceeded expectations early Friday morning, running well and posting 24 of the top 26 marks in the Colorado Open.
The morning began with the women's 5.4k, completing three 1,800-meter loops. The CU women took early command facing one another and Colorado Christian. Transfers Bailey Hertenstein and Ella Baran were among the top runners, grouped up with Kaitlyn Barthell and Carley Bennett in the front pack along with India Johnson who competed unattached.
Hertenstein picked up the pace in the final third of the race, winning in 18:59.8, 11 seconds ahead of a trio of women with Johnson, Barthell and Baran. Bennett rounded out the top-five finishers in 19:16.5.
Redshirt freshman Whitney Valenti ran well to finish seventh in 19:39.7, followed by Hannah Miniutti in eighth separated back by 18 seconds. Anna Shults and Alisa Meraz-Fishbein finished out the top 10 in ninth and 10th, respectfully.
"Well, what we wanted to know today was not the front of the team, but from fifth and sixth back," said head coach Mark Wetmore. "So that was certainly determined in both races. There were some surprises along the way. Carley Bennett had a wonderful race. Our two new people from transfers, Bailey Hertenstein and Ella Baran looked really good for their first attempts at altitude."
Only one true freshman raced for the women, Caroline Mehlhorn who competed unattached and finished 11th overall in 20:27.1.
The men's 7,200-meter race was much more of a pack race with the first loop of four crossing in 5:30 with 20 or more men. The top group finally broke open the race in the third loop as a CU cluster of six men picked up the pace. Redshirt freshman Lukas Haug was the first Buff across, encouraged on by teammates looking to keep the tradition of allowing a newcomer to win the race. Haug crossed just a few feet ahead of five CU men in 21:47.3. The next five Buffaloes crossed less than a second behind with Noah Hibbard, Charlie Sweeney, Austin Vancil, Andrew Kent and Hunter Appleton all finishing virtually shoulder-to-shoulder. Appleton was technically the sixth runner, crossing in 21:47.8.
"In the men's race, there were some surprises in that front group," said Wetmore. "Some people I expected maybe to be in there that we're not. Lukas is a very pleasant surprise. Hunter has had a good summer and had his best cross race for us so far. So as I said, there are always surprises but we got what we needed, which is to know how the team shakes out after the top four or five."
Coach Wetmore's research goal was for the back half of the runners, and the men gave coach a tougher task to separate out with seven more men coming in after the top pack. Brendan Fraser was eighth in 21:56.2, followed by Grady Rauba, Seth Hirsch and Ethan Powell all less than 20 seconds behind the front group. James Overberg, Charlie Welch and Jake Derouin rounded out the top-14 runners with Powell finishing 23 seconds behind the leaders.
The youth showed well for the CU men with five men in the top 14 in their first year of cross country competition.
"Noah Hibbard has yet to be kind of a penetrator for us in cross country but he was with that front group," said Wetmore. "Alex Baca, I thought he had a good summer and then he looked pretty good today. He and Lukas are freshmen. Academically they were freshmen a year ago but they're athletic freshmen this year. So to be up among the top six or seven or eight is very encouraging."
The Buffaloes will continue their early training the next three weeks before heading to the Cowboy Jamboree at Oklahoma State. Colorado will look to run well and study the OSU Cross Country Course in Stillwater as it is the site of the NCAA Championships in November.
Women's Top-10: 1. Bailey Hertenstein (CU) 18:59.8; 2. India Johnson (UNAT-CU), 19:10.8; 3. Kaitlyn Barthell (CU) 19:11.0; 4. Ella Baran (CU) 19:11.2; 5. Carley Bennett (CU) 19:16.5; 6. Paige Tack (CCU) 19:34.5; 7. Whitney Valenti (CU) 19:39.7; 8. Hannah Miniutti (UNAT-CU) 19:57.3; 9. Anna Shults (CU) 20:07.9; 10. Alisa Meraz-Fishbein (CU) 20:10.7
#3 Colorado Women: 1. Bailey Hertenstein (CU) 18:59.8; 2. India Johnson (UNAT-CU), 19:10.8; 3. Kaitlyn Barthell (CU) 19:11.0; 4. Ella Baran (CU) 19:11.2; 5. Carley Bennett (CU) 19:16.5; 7. Whitney Valenti (CU) 19:39.7; 8. Hannah Miniutti (UNAT-CU) 19:57.3; 9. Anna Shults (CU) 20:07.9; 10. Alisa Meraz-Fishbein (CU) 20:10.7; 11. Caroline Mehlhorn (UNAT-CU) 20:27.1; 12. Karina Andersen (CU) 20:34.6; 16. Rylee Robinson (CU) 20:56.1; 18. Bella Longo (CU) 21:09.0
Men's Top-10: 1. Lukas Haug (CU) 21:47.3; 2. Noah Hibbard (CU) 21:47.7; 3. Charlie Sweeney (CU) 21:47.7; 4. Austin Vancil (UNAT-CU) 21:47.7; 5. Andrew Kent (CU) 21:47.8; 6. Hunter Appleton (CU) 21:48.0; 7. Josh Pierantoni (CCU) 21:52.3; 8. Brendan Fraser (CU) 21:56.2; 9. Grady Rauba (CU) 21:59.0; 10. Seth Hirsch (CU) 22:02.1
#5 Colorado Men: 1. Lukas Haug (CU) 21:47.3; 2. Noah Hibbard (CU) 21:47.7; 3. Charlie Sweeney (CU) 21:47.7; 4. Austin Vancil (UNAT-CU) 21:47.7; 5. Andrew Kent (CU) 21:47.8; 6. Hunter Appleton (CU) 21:48.0; 8. Brendan Fraser (CU) 21:56.2; 9. Grady Rauba (CU) 21:59.0; 10. Seth Hirsch (CU) 22:02.1; 11. Ethan Powell (CU) 22:06.3; 12. James Overberg (CU) 22:07.9; 13. Charlie Welch (CU) 22:09.8; 14. Jake Derouin (CU) 22:10.3; 16. Shaw Powell (CU) 22:15.6; 18. Jace Aschbrenner (CU) 22:21.4; 20. Caleb Niednagel (CU) 22:26.5; 21. Alex Baca (CU) 22:28.4; 22. Isaiah Givens (UNAT-CU) 22:44.1; 23. Zack Gacnik (CU) 22:45.6; 29. Conner Wingfield (UNAT-CU) 23:09.8; 30. Ryan Lindrud (CU) 23:17.4; 31. Josh Medina (CU) 23:22.2; 35. Tyler Scholl (CU) 23:39.3; 41. Wilson Georges (UNAT-CU) 24:09.2; 42. Kashon Harrison (CU) 24:20.6; 45. Connor Williams (UNAT-CU) 24:58.2; 46. Jacob Culig (UNAT-CU) 25:23.1