By Colorado standards, the past few years haven't been as great as usual for the Buffaloes' cross country teams.

In 2006, the men's team won the national championship, while the women's team was runner-up.

Since then, neither squad has managed to crack the top five at nationals. They're hoping to change that today, however, at the NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Ind.

"This is probably the best we've looked in the last five years, I think," senior Andy Wacker said. "The men have just been performing really well and we have more good runners than usual, a lot of depth. We're definitely really excited."

There's general excitement among the five seniors -- Richard Medina, Christian Thompson and Wacker on the men's side; and Emma Coburn and Katie Cumming on the women's side -- because this is shaping up to be the best season they've ever had at CU.

"I definitely think we have the best team we've had since I've been here," Cumming said. "We have a great group and I know we have really high expectations. We're going to go in and do our best, just like we did at Pac-12s.

"Based on our training and our mindsets, I'm very confident that we're going to execute a great race."

Both the men and women won Pac-12 titles on Oct. 29. They'd love to repeat that feat today at nationals, although that's a tall order.


CU is ranked sixth nationally on the men's side and the women's side. As Wacker said, that "definitely means we have a shot." However, Wisconsin goes in as the favorite to win the men's title, while Florida State is favored to win the women's crown.

"In the sport of cross country, there are fewer upsets than in other sports for some reason," Buffs coach Mark Wetmore said. "I don't know why. Generally the best team wins. Both of those teams (Wisconsin and Florida State) would have to stumble in some way for anybody to beat them.

"Behind that, though, there is a pack from second to eighth on both sides of pretty even teams, some of whom we'd like to think we can out-race. We'd like to think we can go there and evaluate the conditions and maybe manage it a little better than some other people."

The Buffs are familiar with the course, but so are a lot of the top teams. Wacker said the Pac-12 championships -- run on a flat, fast course -- gives the Buffs confidence.

"It wasn't our element and we won there," he said. "We've shown that we're ready for anything."

Wacker and his fellow seniors are also in the prime condition of their careers.

With all the positives going their way, the Buffs have easy reason to be confident and think they can get back on the national podium.

"It's been five long years where we've been really good and it just hasn't come through," Wacker said. "We're all hoping that this will be the year that we turn things around, starting off with that Pac-12 title we had a couple weeks ago. That's a good start.

"We've been training for this for years. This is where everyone goes psycho-hard. You've got to give it everything you've got. It's our last chance, so we're definitely holding nothing back for this."

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