LOUISVILLE — The University of Colorado took home a pair of second-place trophies Saturday, with the men and women both earning runner-up finishes at the 2015 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
“I’m proud of the women,” head coach Mark Wetmore said. “I’m proud of the men. I wish we had 10 less points on the men’s side but I know they ran their hearts out. I’m happy.”
The Buffs had the best combined finish of any program in the nation, edging out Oregon for that honor. The Ducks finished third in the women’s race and fourth in the men’s competition.
Senior Pierce Murphy was the top individual finisher for Colorado, crossing the line in third place. Junior Erin Clark was the top woman for the Buffs, finishing 11th.
CU’s men came in as the favorite and lost by just nine points to No. 2 ranked Syracuse (82-91).
“A tinge of disappointment is a good way to describe it,” Wetmore said. “Second place by nine points in this deep of a field with all of the All-American recruits, I feel proud of them.”
The women’s team entered the meet ranked second overall and earned their ranking after their race with 129 points. Top-ranked New Mexico won with 49 points, while fifth-ranked Oregon placed third with 215 points. The runner-up finish is the highest placing for the Buffs since 2006, when they also placed second.
“They were seventh a year ago, but way, way back,” Wetmore said. “New Mexico was a head taller than everyone else but our team did fine. They did everything we asked of them and they’re all back but one so we’ll be ready to do it again next year.”
The women were also excited about their finish.
“I think it’s an awesome step forward for us,” Clark said. “We worked really hard and well as a group for this all season. There’s more to come.”
Sophomore Kaitlyn Benner, who finished 16th, said, “We definitely wanted to get second, maybe sneak away with the win if we could, but we’re very happy with second.
Clark clocked in at 20:05.4 over the 6K course for her second straight All-American honor. Just behind her was Benner in 20:07.7. Benner’s performance also garnered her All-American status.
“It’s an incredible experience,” Benner said. “I wasn’t expecting to be able to be this high at the beginning of the season. I just wanted to be an All-American. But to be far up there, especially alongside my teammate, was an awesome experience.”
Senior Maddie Alm was CU’s third woman across the finish line, coming in at 47th overall (20:31.2). Freshman Dani Jones was two places from Alm at 49th (20:31.8). Redshirt sophomore Melanie Nun was the final scorer to finish for CU, taking 65th overall (20:37.9).
Redshirt freshman Val Constien and junior Carrie Verdon also raced at the meet. Constien finished 136th, (21:04.4) while Verdon was 146th overall (21:11.2).
CU has been rebuilding for the last few seasons and Alm has been a part of the process, running in the last two NCAA meets for the Buffs.
“It’s amazing,” she said about the team finish. “These girls are awesome and so fun to run with. They push me every day and I’m so happy to be a part of this awesome program. I’m definitely going to miss it.”
Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel was the overall winner, coming in at 19:28.6.
In the men’s 10K race, Murphy’s finish was the best by a Buff since since Dathan Ritzenhein won in 2003. Murphy, who has led the team all year, finished in 29:37, earning his third All-American honor.
“Pierce was 38th or 39th a year ago so that’s a wonderful run for him,” Wetmore said. “He’s been a really patient, hardworking guy for us, better every year. He’s a totally unheralded high school guy so Kauai is out there celebrating right now.”
“I’m disappointed (about the team finish) but at the same time, I know we trained as well as we could have and ran as hard as we could have,” Murphy said. “There was nothing else we could have done. We left everything on the course.”
The Buffs placed all five of their runners in the top 35, but Syracuse had too many finish before CU’s herd came through. Syracuse went 4-8-9-39-47 overall to edge out Colorado.
Senior Morgan Pearson was second across the line for CU, finishing 25th overall (30:16.1). True freshman John Dressel was 26th in 30:16.4. Just behind those two were junior Ben Saarel (31st, 30:19.8) and senior Connor Winter (33rd, 30:19.8). All five of CU’s racers were tabbed All-Americans for their performances.
Senior Ammar Moussa just missed All-American honors with a 42nd place finish (30:29.9). Sophomore Zach Perrin also ran and placed 195th (31:57.0).
Oregon junior Edward Cheserek won his third straight individual title, finishing in 23:45.8.
2015 NCAA DIVISION I CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP
E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park (Louisville, Ky.)
MEN’S TEAM TOP-10 10K RESULTS (of 31 teams)
- Syracuse, 82; 2. Colorado, 92; 3. Stanford, 151; 4. Oregon, 183; 5. Iona, 231; 6 Arkansas, 244; 7. Louisville, 331; 8. Washington, 345; 9. Michigan, 348; 10. Georgetown, 352
MEN’S TOP-10 INDIVIDUAL FINISHERS
- Edward Cheserek, UO, 28:45.8; 2. Patrick Tiernan, Villanova, 29:11.1; 3. Pierce Murphy, 29:37.0; 4. Justyn Knight, Syracuse, 29:46.1; 5. Jonathan Green, Georgetown, 29:49.5; 6. Jim Rosa, Stanford, 29:52.7; 7. Sean McGorty, Stanford, 29:53.4; 8. Colin Bennie, Syracuse, 29:55.9; 9. Martin Hehir, Syracuse, 29:59.5; 10. Marc Scott, Tulsa, 30:02.6
OTHER COLORADO FINISHERS
- Morgan Pearson, 30:16.1; 26. John Dressel, 20:16.4; 31. Ben Saarel, 30:19.8; 33. Connor Winter, 30:21.7; 42. Ammar Moussa, 30:29.9; 195. Zach Perrin, 31:57.0
WOMEN’S TEAM TOP-10 6K RESULTS (of 31 teams)
- New Mexico, 49; 2. Colorado, 129; 3. Oregon, 214; 4. Providence, 231; 5. NC State, 264; 6. Michigan, 264; 7. Oklahoma State, 274; 8. Notre Dame, 276; 9. Arkansas, 276; 10. Washington, 297
WOMEN’S TOP-10 INDIVIDUAL FINISHERS
- Molly Seidel, Notre Dame, 19:28.6; 2. Allie Ostrander, Boise State, 19:33.6; 3. Dominique Scott, Boise State, 19:40.9; 4. Courtney Ferichs, New Mexico, 19:48.0; 5. Alice Wright, New Mexico, 19:53.5; 6. Anna Rohrer, Notre Dame, 19:59.7; 7. Allie Buchalski, Furman, 20:02.6; 8. Maddie Meyers, Washington, 20:03.1; 9. Brenna Peloquin, Boise State, 20:04.3; 10. Sharon Lokedi, Kansas, 20:04.9.
- Erin Clark, 20:05.4; 16. Kaitlyn Benner, 20:07.7; 47. Maddie Alm, 20:31.2; 49. Dani Jones, 20:31.8; 65. Melanie Nun, 20:37.9; 136. Val Constein, 21:04.4; 146. Carrie Verdon, 21:11.2; 159. Darby Gilfillan, 21:15.7