CU Ready To Defend Pac-12 Titles
BOULDER — The University of Colorado cross country program heads to Riverside, Calif., this Friday to compete in the 2022 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships, seeking to defend their titles from 2021.
The Buffs enter the race ranked 10th in the NCAA on the men's side and 11th on the women's. The men are seeking to upset the No.1 Stanford in the 8k race that begins at 10:40 a.m. MT, while the women will be in a three-way dogfight with Utah and Stanford in the 6K race at 9:40 a.m. MT. The race will be held at the UC-Riverside course, but hosted by Southern California.
The women's race is tight based on rankings with Stanford at nine, Utah ranking 10th and the CU women 11th. Additionally, Oregon is tied for 12th with Georgetown. At Nuttycombe, the women finished in that exact order with Stanford seventh, Utah eighth, the Buffs ninth, then Oregon 11th with Georgetown in between.
The women's race is so close, the top three teams could be separated by less than three points. If the Nuttycombe results from the six Pac-12 teams in attendance were turned into a Pac-12 race, Colorado would've scored 67, followed by Utah at 68 and Stanford at 69. Both of the Washington schools have strong women that did not race at Nuttycombe that could disrupt the placement for those top-three teams.
Colorado's Bailey Hertenstein was the second Pac-12 finisher in the women's race behind Oregon State's Kaylee Mitchell with Utah's Emily Venters one position behind Hertenstein. The next closest Pac-12 athlete was Oregon State's Grace Fetherstonhaugh. The race for the top will be crucial for the team with everything so close. The Buffs are also hoping to have Emily Covert and Ella Baran up in the mix in the front. The CU women have finished with the same order at both the Cowboy Jamboree and Nuttycombe with Kaitlyn Barthell running fourth for the Buffs and Gabrielle Orie fifth. Both ladies will be extremely important in a close race to pass as many runners as possible. They will be joined by Carley Bennett and Alisa Meraz-Fishbein who will look to displace runners in the scoring and help the women secure their second-straight Pac-12 Championship.
The men's team is second in the national rankings in the Pac-12 behind No.1 Stanford. CU is ranked 10th followed by Oregon at 15th and Washington at 20th. Those four teams all met at Nuttycombe, and if those four were the only teams scored the Buffs would've finished second behind Stanford.
The Buffs men have not had the opportunity to have a full squad go yet this season. At the Cowboy Jamboree, Austin Vancil sat out of the race while Andrew Kent placed eighth overall. At Nuttycombe, Vancil led the squad despite taking a spike to the foot during the race. Kent unfortunately did not feel well and had an off race. The men are looking to have those two, along with veterans Charlie Sweeney, Brendan Fraser and Seth Hirsch lead the way for CU. The team will also have some younger runners looking to mix up the scoring with James Overberg, Lukas Haug, Noah Hibbard, Jace Aschbrenner and Hunter Appleton all suiting up this weekend.
Both races will be streamed on the Pac-12 Network with live results here.