The University of Colorado’s cross country season got off to a great start on Saturday morning at the CU Time Trial with strong performances from the No. 4 ranked women and No. 7 ranked men’s teams.
It’s a CU tradition to let a freshman runner cross the finish first at the time trial and this year the winners were Rachel Baptista and Ammar Moussa. Baptista won the women’s 5.8-kilometer race in 21 minutes, 44 seconds and Moussa won the men’s 8k in 26:06.
“Rachel Baptista is a very pleasant surprise,” coach Mark Wetmore said. “We knew that she was good or we never would have recruited her, but to run that far up and to finish with the varsity group is a pleasant surprise. Ammar was one of the best high school runners in the country and it was no surprise that he was up there at that pace. We will have to see in a few weeks when they are going two minutes faster if he is at the front.”
The men crossed the finish in an extremely close pack. Moussa was running unattached, but the next six runners to cross the finish were wearing the black and gold and all finished within a second of each other. Christian Thompson, Martin Medina, Richard Medina, Jonny Stevens and Andy Wacker all finished in 26:08, while Blake Theroux crossed in 26:09.
“We’ve already been pushing ourselves quite a bit,” Thompson said. “We had a really good summer. The team and everyone was meeting and doing a lot of good workouts, a lot of good runs and just a lot of group running. The team is definitely fit.”
The women ran very well. Behind Baptista was another CU freshman Jana Stolting who was also competing unattached. She finished in 21:45. Shalaya Kipp was the first CU uniformed finisher, crossing the finish line in 21:45 for third. Katie Cumming, a senior on the squad, was fourth overall and Lara Heigis took fifth. Both earned a time of 21:45.
“I think it’s looking like a really good season,” Kipp said. “This is much faster than we have run in the past [at the time trial]. We have a lot of fast freshmen and good transfers. I am excited about this season.”
Wetmore was happy with the day’s results for both squads, but knows the team has work to do.
“Today the times looked very good and the conditions were better than usual,” he said. “I have to be a little careful of those fast times. These are relatively excellent conditions. The course is never in brilliant condition this time of year, but I think the weather was a little conducive. So when I evaluate these performances I will have to do so with a grain of salt.”
Emma Coburn, who recently returned from competing at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, did not compete but was there to cheer on her teammates. Wetmore said the decision on whether Coburn will race this cross country season will be determined later this season.
The Buffs’ next action is the 26th Annual Rocky Mountain Shootout on October 1. Meet information is available at cubuffs.com/crosscountry.