Colorado cross country sweeps NCAA Mountain Regionals

The University of Colorado cross country teams fled the sub-zero temperatures in Boulder for Albuquerque this weekend to chase down an NCAA Division I Mountain Regional Championship. It seems that these runners are peaking at just the right time, as a 45-point victory for the men’s team and a 43-point upset for the women completed a clean sweep for the Buffaloes.

In the men’s 10k race, Colorado’s average time clocked in at 29:59, 10 seconds faster than runner-up Northern Arizona. In 2013 these teams were reversed, with Colorado finishing eight points behind the Lumberjacks. This year the margin was 13. CU is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation ahead of Pac-12 rival Oregon, and has not lost a team title since last year’s NCAA National Championship.

For the women’s team, the 6k pack victory was their second-straight, and the 2014 regular season is eerily comparable to 2013 as well. The lady Buffs finished within the top four in each meet this year after taking first, second and seventh in the 2013 meets leading up to championship season.

Rather than usual frontrunner Blake Theroux, junior Connor Winter led Colorado’s pack with a 29:55 fourth-place finish. Senior Jake Hurysz followed close behind in seventh, coming through at 29:57. The remaining three scorers for the Buffs were junior Ammar Moussa (29:58.1), junior Pierce Murphy (30:00.9) and sophomore Ben Saarel (30:03.7). It is not new for Colorado to finish as a unit, with the eight-second margin slightly reflecting their near-perfect Pac-12 Championship finish two weeks ago.

The women haven’t been more erratic per se, but haven’t had the intense herd-like formation of the men’s team. Sophomore Erin Clark took second individually, finishing at 20:56.5. Clark was five seconds behind New Mexico’s Alice Wright, who took the individual title. Despite the Lobos taking first, third and tenth, the Buffaloes’ average team time of 21:20 was enough to take the top spot. Other scorers for CU were junior Maddie Alm (21:20.7), sophomore Annie Kelly (21:29.1), freshman Kaitlyn Benner (21:32.6) and junior Jenny DeSouchet (21:41.4).

Head coach Mark Wetmore can tally today’s victories in his extensively successful coaches’ book. While at CU, Wetmore has coached 31 conference championship teams and accumulated 20 NCAA titles in his 20 years as Colorado’s head coach. Wetmore’s sights are now set on hunting down two more to round out 2014.

The team now has one week of practice before leaving next Thursday for Terre Haute, Indiana, and the NCAA Championships. The final gun of the year will sound at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, to start the men’s race, and all fingers will be crossed for a second-straight national title. On the women’s side, improving past the seventh-place finish of 2013 is the primary goal at hand.

Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Jordyn Siemens at jordyn.siemens@colorado.edu.

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