It was a historic day for the Colorado Buffaloes men's and women's cross country programs on Friday, as the Buffs collected both teams titles the Pac-12 Championships in Tucson, Ariz.
It was the sixth consecutive Pac-12 title for the men's program — a clean sweep of every championship since joining the league — and overall the Buffs' programs have claimed nine out of 12 team championships since becoming a Pac-12 member in 2011. It was the second consecutive title for the women's program and the third overall.
Going back to CU's time in the Big 12 Conference, the Buffs have now won 32 team titles out of a possible 42 under head coach Mark Wetmore. It also marked the 15th time the men's and women's teams have swept the conference finals in the same season.
It is the second time the men's team has won six straight conference crowns and its first in the Pac-12, matching a league record held by Stanford.
The CU women dominated their race as Colorado had three runners finish in the top five. Senior Erin Clark finished second, giving her three straight top-four finishes in the league finals. Clark narrowly missed a conference title in a thrilling finish, as her time of 20 minutes, 23.3 seconds was only decimals behind winner Amy-Eloise Neal of Washington (20:22.9).
"What I'm most happy with is that nobody had a bad day. Everybody was smart and executed their plan. We were under a lot of pressure because the number two team in the country and two or three other ranked teams were in there. They moved up well during the race," Wetmore said. "Washington did come back at them in the last 2k or 1500 meters. But in the end, it was up to our most optimistic expectations. That's our real team right there. I didn't think we ran great at the pre-nationals, mostly because we were rusty and kind of young for that big chaotic race. So this was a little bit more indicative of our real team. I'm real happy."
Dani Jones took third and Monarch alum Kaitlyn Benner finished in fourth. Jones, a sophomore, finished a distant 24th in the race a year ago. Overall the Buffs had four in the top 10 and all seven runners in the top 16.
Colorado finished with 33 points, far outpacing runner-up Washington (74 points).
On the men's side, senior Ben Saarel set the pace with a third-place run, the third top-nine finish of his career at the Pac-12 finals. The Buffs logged a total of four top-10 finishes with Zach Perrin placing fourth, John Dressel taking sixth, and Ryan Forsyth finishing ninth. The men's team's 41 points just edged runner-up Stanford (47).
"I knew, coach Burroughs knew, and the men finally knew that the pre-nationals wasn't a great race. They made some execution errors there, but they immediately bought into the concept on how to adjust and how to run better. In which case we knew that we were going to be contenders for this title. We came here planning to make it really hard to beat us," Wetmore said. "Stanford's an excellent team, and I think Oregon struggled a little bit today with the heat. It came down to every last guy fighting for us. We won by about a point a man. It was a real war and I'm super proud of these guys. Nobody for us had a bad day."
The Buffs took home hardware off the course as well, with Saarel and Clark claiming the league's Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards.
Of note, Oregon's Edward Cheserek became the first four-time winner of the men's race.
2016 PAC-12 CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Randolph North Golf Course (Tucson, Ariz.)
Women's 6k Team Results
1. Colorado 33; 2. Washington 74; 3. Stanford 83; 4. Oregon 88; 5. Utah 169; 6. California 184; 7. UCLA 201; 8. Arizona 204; 9. Oregon State 224; 10. Arizona State 236; 11. Washington State 304; 12. USC 375
Women's 6k Individual Results (top 10)
1. Amy-Eloise Neale, UW, 20:22.9; 2. Erin Clark, CU, 20:23.3; 3. Dani Jones, CU, 20:24.4; 4. Kaitlyn Benner, CU, 20:28.3; 5. Katie Rainsberger, UO, 20:30.6; 6. Charlotte Prouse, UW, 20:32.0; 7. Bethan Knights, Cal, 20:34.3; 8. Vanessa Fraser, SU, 20:35.2; 9. Makena Morely, CU, 20:43.0; 10. Addi Zerrenner, UA, 20:47.6
Other CU Finishers
15. Sage Hurta, 21:00.3; 16. Mackenzie Caldwell, 21:03.7; 17. Melanie Nun, 21:04.6; 26. Tabor Scholl, 21:22.8; 38. Tayler Tuttle, 21:38.0; 52. Carrie Verdon, 22:05.4
Men's 8k Team Results
1. Colorado, 41; 2. Stanford, 47; 3. UCLA, 58; 4. Oregon, 94; 5. Washington State, 130; 6. California, 163; 7. Washington, 187; 8. Arizona State, 225; 9. Arizona, 234
Men's 8k Individual Results (top 10)
1. Edward Cheserek, UO, 23:58.9; 2. Grant Fisher, SU, 24:13.5; 3. Ben Saarel, CU, 24:16.5; 4. Zach Perrin, CU, 24:17.1; 5. Ferdinand Edman, UCLA, 24:18.4; 6. John Dressel, CU, 24:20.8; 7. Sean McGorty, SU, 24:22.9; 8. Thomas Ratcliffe, SU, 24:31.9; 9. Ryan Forsyth, CU, 24:39.5; 10. Jonah Diaz, UCLA, 24:42.2
Other CU Finisher
19. Joe Klecker, 24:55.2; 32. Reilly Friedman, 25:08.1; 42. Christian Martin, 25:27.8; 52. Ethan Gonzales, 25:56.6