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Recent rain and floods turned the Buffalo Ranch Cross Country Course in Boulder into a muddy challenge on Saturday, but the conditions did not deter the Buffs from another Rocky Mountain Shootout title.
It was the women’s 15th and the men’s 23rd consecutive team titles at the Shootout. Both men and women had six runners place in the top 10 of the Division I section.
Junior Blake Theroux won the men’s race with a time of 25:34, barely holding off freshman Ben Saarel, who conquered the eight-kilometer course in 25:35.
“I feel really happy to put my name in (the record books) and up against some people that I really look up to,” Theroux said.
When asked about Saarel, Theroux had nothing but praise.
“(Ben) is the real deal,” he said. “He’s phenomenal, and his kick especially is ferocious. I just laid it all out there at the very end trying to get him at the line.”
On the women’s team, the Buff’s top finishers were sophomores Carrie Verdon, with a time of 20:55, and Catrina McAlister, who came in at 21:59. Although the women’s course only measures 5.8 kilometers compared to the men’s eight, it proved to be just as grueling.
“The footing was really difficult, but I think we managed pretty well,” Verdon said.
McAlister said she was especially happy about her performance because of the muddy course, caused by the floods.
“I know it’s just the beginning of the season… I have a long way to go but I’m excited to be back up there,” McAlister explained. “This is a good place to be and a good start.”
Head coach Mark Wetmore was also happy with his runners. Aside from the sub-par conditions on the course, he revealed that the recent flooding also compromised many trails that the Buffs use to practice.
“A lot of the places we normally go are either flooded or the roads are closed,” Wetmore said. “We have the dirt roads north of town (and) what are known as the practice football fields at CU.”
The runners have not lost a step, though.
“We couldn’t run on the creek path anywhere because it’s kind of gone, but we just ran on the roads,” Verdon said. “We’ve been putting in some hard miles and training hard.”
Wetmore said the team’s talented freshman women all ran unattached, waiting to make uniform decisions.
“Two of them will go into uniform on Monday, and maybe a third,” Wetmore said about the women’s team.
The men’s team follows the same process, but the competition for a varsity spot is closer this year.
“They run with the greatest recruiting class we’ve ever gotten,” Theroux said. “Looking forward next year, even after I’m gone, those guys are going to be running some very scary times and beating a lot of people.”
The Buffs will run again Oct. 19 at the NCAA Pre-National meet in Terre Haute, Ind.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jordyn Siemens at Jordyn.firstname.lastname@example.org.