LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Following Saturday's NCAA championships at E.L. Tom Sawyer State Park, the Colorado women's cross country team needed some time to cool down.

It was the mental and emotional recovery that was probably most needed for the Buffs.

This certainly was not one of the better seasons the women's team has ever had. The Buffs barely got into nationals. Once there, they finished 24th, the lowest finish in the program's 28 trips to nationals and much lower than the top-15 finish they were shooting for.

Don't worry about coach Mark Wetmore's squad, however. This is a group poised for bigger and better things in 2013.

All eight women's runners CU brought to nationals (including an alternate) are scheduled to return in 2013. That includes Shalaya Kipp, who finished 18th on Saturday, despite having limited cross country training this year because of her trip to London to compete in the steeplechase at the Summer Olympics.

Kipp will have a chance in 2013 to become CU's first-ever four-time All-American in women's cross country. She's already one of just five three-timers.

The Buffs will also welcome back Carrie Verdon, who had a stellar freshman season and Jana Stolting, who spent much of her first season as the Buffs' No. 3 runner.

Camille Logan and Rachel Viger -- both three-time national championship qualifiers -- return, as well.


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Courtney Bouchet, Elizabeth Tremblay and Catrina McAlister (Saturday's alternate) are all slated to come back, too.

On top of that group, the Buffs will get Rachel Baptista back. She missed this season with an injury, but showed great promise in 2011 as a freshman. Baptista was one of the Buffs' top seven runners in all four of the big races (Pre-Nationals, Pac-12 championships, regionals and nationals) in 2011. She was fourth on the team and 14th overall at the Pac-12 championships.

With all that talent coming back, the Buffs were able to look to the future with hope, even with the disappointment of nationals still in the air.

"There's the foundation for a good team," Wetmore said. "They'll learn from this, hopefully they'll grow and have an Aric-like year."

Wetmore was referring to Aric Van Halen of the men's team, who went from being CU's 11th man in 2011 (failing to qualify for nationals) to reaching All-American status this season. Van Halen was 36th in Saturday's men's race.

Unfortunately for the Buffs, Van Halen, who seems to just be getting started in his ascent, and Martin Medina, a top-five runner most of the season, have now exhausted their cross country eligibility.

Despite losing those two, though, the CU men's team will be geared up to take aim at another Pac-12 title and top-three finish at nationals in 2013. Inexperienced this year, they still managed to win the conference, reach the No. 2 national ranking at one point and finish a close third at nationals.

The men entertained national title thoughts, so there was a hint of disappointment in Saturday's results, but a top-three finish was still celebrated.

The men's team was led by junior Jake Hurysz and sophomore Blake Theroux, who both achieved All-American status on Saturday.

In addition to those two, the Buffs return freshman Pierce Murphy, who was top-four on the team almost all year and came close to All-American status at nationals, placing 45th; redshirt freshman Connor Winter, a raw cross country runner with great potential; sophomore Hugh Dowdy, who was a top-five runner for the Buffs most of the season; and sophomore Morgan Pearson, who was Saturday's alternate.

No doubt, Wetmore has talent beyond that group waiting in the wings, too.

So, while Saturday may not have gone exactly as planned for the Buffs, the future of Colorado cross country is as promising as ever.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.