The 2000 women’s cross country team upended the defending national champion to claim the program’s first national title, the 18th overall at CU.
Coming off back-to-back team titles at the Big 12 and NCAA Mountain Region Championships, Colorado was the top-ranked team in the country entering the biggest race of the year. As is its goal each year, Colorado wanted to better its ranking, which would now be the biggest challenge in the program’s history.
Up for the challenge in wind-chill conditions that brought the late Midwest November temperature to 19-degrees below zero, Colorado methodically worked its way from the back of the pack to the front for the title. With a program-best 117 points, the Buffs finished 50 ahead of defending national champion Brigham Young.
Kara Grgas-Wheeler (now Goucher) won the program’s first individual crown while freshman Sara Gorton (now Slattery) became the second-highest finishing freshman in the race and highest in program history with an eighth place effort. Jodie Hughes locked up All-American honors with a 30th-place effort while Lesley Higgins (52nd) and Tera Moody (71st) rounded out the CU scoring.
In the championship sweep, Grgas-Wheeler won CU’s first individual title sans AIAW to complete the nation’s only undefeated campaign. With the title, Grgas-Wheeler capped off a 1,035-0 season repeating her Big 12 Conference and Mountain Region titles before capturing her third national title, first in the fall. Her win marked the first time since 1994 that the individual national champion was represented on the NCAA Championship team.