Colorado’s second-rated women and sixth-ranked men’s cross country teams looked sharp in their first major varsity races of the season on Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind., as the women’s team won the NCAA Pre-National Invitational team title and the men came away with third overall.
Despite the win for the women, head coach Mart Wetmore still sees room for improvement.
“We are happy with the win,” said Wetmore. “I would say we had some good races and we had some races we could do better. We learned from this experience and we will make a plan for next time.”
Leading the way for the Buffs women was senior Erin Clark led both CU teams with a runner-up finish in the women’s 6-kilometer race with a time of 20:08.4, finishing 23 seconds behind Michigan’s Erin Finn.
“That was a good run for her today,” said Wetmore. “[Finn] was formiddable and is someone we would rather worry about five weeks from now.”
Padding the women’s overall score were junior Kaitlyn Benner and Sophomore Dani Jones, finishing 12th and 17th respectively.
The women’s team moved up as the day progressed. After the first 2k, CU was third (160) behind California (134) and Oregon (152). Over the course of the next two kilometers, the Buffs took over the lead. They had a score of 85, which was almost double Oregon (152) and Stanford (159). CU ran away with a winning 93 points, over 60 points less than the runner-up, No. 9 Oregon (154).
Ryan Forsyth continued his breakout Sophomore season with a 15th place finish, improving on his 51st place mark last year. The men had five runners place in the top 30 Saturday, including sophomore John Dressel and senior Ben Saarel, racing in their first meets in uniform this season, and finishing 27th and 28th overall.
The Buffs made up some ground against the Razorbacks, but ultimately the Ducks would fly past both teams, winning the team title with 85 points. Arkansas was second with 110 points and CU was third just 14 points back (124).
“The men weren’t great today,” said Wetmore. “We have some thinking to do and some adjustments to make; maybe come into the next race better rested. Oregon beat us soundly – they beat us by more than the score indicates. We are going to have to make some adjustments to be better.”
The postseason kicks off for the CU cross country teams as they will travel to the Pac-12 Championships, Oct. 28, in Tucson, Ariz.