TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — On a wet, rainy course in Terre Haute, Indiana, senior Joe Klecker led the Colorado Buffaloes to a third-place men’s finish as he finished as the national runner-up in 30:37 at the 2019 NCAA Cross Country National Championships.
The CU men scored 164 team points to finish third, just a single point behind Northern Arizona in second while BYU took the team title with 109 total points. On the women’s side, Sage Hurta marked her fourth All-America honor as the Buffs finished 10th overall.
Covered in mud and gutting it out, Klecker never left the top-10 in the race through any of the splits. The senior crossed the first 3,000-meters in 8:55, just two and a half seconds from first and in the eighth spot. He moved up one position at the halfway mark as John Dressel momentarily passed Klecker, but in the following second-half, Klecker eyed the lead. He moved up to third through 8,000-meters and made his final pass in the final 400 meters to finish as the national runner-up. His second-place finish is the highest for a CU Buff on the men’s side since Dathan Ritzenhein’s national championship in 2003.
“It was a matter of being patient. It was a very muddy course today, so it would’ve been very hard for someone to run away with it from the beginning of the race. I just tried to stay patient and wait until the last two kilometers to really go for it and fortunately I was able to beat everyone except one person, so I was happy with that. Just being patient was the name of the game in these muddy conditions.”Joe Klecker
Dressel finished in seventh for the men, giving CU the best 1-2 punch in the nation as the only team with two in the top-10. With the finish, Dressel becomes the fourth CU man to earn four All-America honors in cross country.
Possibly the breakout performance of the year goes to Alec Hornecker, a walk-on transfer from Golden High School. Hornecker began the race in fifth for Colorado in the 89th position through 3,000. In the next 2,000 meters, he began a strong surge to 60th, then jumped all the way to 36th overall by the 8K mark. Hornecker finished 38th overall for his first All-America honor.
Rounding out the men’s top-five was Eduardo Herrera in 55th and freshman Kashon Harrison in 90th. Herrera began the race in 57th and moved as high as 47th through the halfway mark. Harrison started strong in 53rd but faded to 98th by the 8,000 mark. A strong surge made a huge difference in the team points as he finished eight positions higher.
For the women, the Buffaloes finished 10th with 294 team points led by Senior Sage Hurta with her 37th overall finish.
“It’s hard to imagine given last year we were the national champions but I’m just as proud to be running with the women today. Everyone here was fighting their own personal battles. The expectations for each person and each team are different year to year. I was just proud of how tough everyone was and how we were able to come together and run as a team.”Sage Hurta
Holly Bent was CU’s next runner, crossing the finish line 44th overall. She never left the top-50 as she moved from 49th to her finishing spot in the final 2,000 meters. Rachel McArthur made up lots of points after dropping to 110th through 4K. She jumped 25 spots to 85 to finish as CU’s third runner.
Annie Hill crossed the line fourth as she moved up 21 spots in the final 2K from 121st to 100th. CU’s final fifth runner was Tabor Scholl in 126th.
Our team wasn’t brilliant, but they got around the course. It was a star-crossed year for the women, and I know they think they could’ve done some things differently since September to be a little further up but we’ll talk about that after Thanksgiving.”Mark Wetmore
On the men’s side, Joe Klecker earned his 3rd All-American status with his runner-up finish, John Dressel with his 7th place finish became just the fourth four-time All-American for the Buffs, and walk-on transfer Alec Hornecker also earned the title
Sage Hurta becomes the second-ever CU Buff woman to earn four All-America honors in her career, joining Shalaya Kipp.