It seems all good things had to come to an end for the Colorado men’s cross country team.
And so Dani Jones took it upon herself to perhaps start a new Buffaloes tradition at the Pac-12 Conference cross country championships.
On Friday, Jones became the first CU runner to win an individual title at the Pac-12 meet while leading the Buffs to their third consecutive team championship. The men’s team, which had captured all six Pac-12 titles since joining the league in 2011, finished second behind Stanford.
Jones is the first league champion from the vaunted Buffaloes cross country program since Jenny Simpson won the last of her three Big 12 Conference titles in 2009. Jones finished the six-kilometer course in 18 minutes, 57.3 seconds to edge Oregon sophomore and Colorado Springs native Katie Rainsberger (18:58.5).
Jones was one of three CU women runners to finish in the top 10, an effort that allowed the Buffaloes to outscore runner-up Stanford 53-71. Senior Kaitlyn Benner, who earlier in the day was named the Pac-12 women’s cross country Scholar-Athlete of the Year, capped an impressive day by finishing eighth at 19:09.5. While Benner finished fourth a year ago and second in 2015, it was a career-best time at the Pac-12 finals for the Monarch graduate.
Sage Hurta finished ninth for the Buffs (19:12.2), while Makena Morely (15th) and Tabor Scholl (20th) all finished in the top 20 to give CU its fourth league title overall in seven seasons in the Pac-12.
CU coach Mark Wetmore said it was the most complete race the women’s team has put together this season.
“It was a really good race. (Jones) was smart and patient,” Wetmore said in a statement. “She kept herself within the front the whole time and closed hard. I knew with 300 to go she was going to be hard to beat.
“They had their best race of the year for sure. Some people who had the sniffles two weeks ago are healthy. Some people who made tactical mistakes in races recently cleared those up. As I said, we ran our best race of the year and I am very happy for them.”
While the perfect run of Pac-12 titles ended for the men’s team, it hardly was an embarrassing performance. Sophomore Joe Klecker led the way with a second-place finish, crossing the line for the eight-kilometer course in 23:48.00. Klecker finished behind men’s winner Grant Fisher of Stanford (23:44.90). It was the best finish, place-wise, for a CU men’s runner in a league final since Brent Vaughn won his third Big 12 title in 2007.
Ryan Forsyth (seventh, 23:58.5) and Eduardo Herrera (10th, 24:02.7) also turned in top-10 finishes for the Buffs, who finished just six points behind Stanford atop the team standings (41-47).
CU will be back in action at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships on Nov. 10 in Logan, Utah.
At Springfield, Ore.
Team scores — Colorado 53, Stanford 71, Oregon 71, Washington 128, Cal 132, Utah 146, Arizona 186, UCLA 221, Arizona State 232, Washington State 259, Oregon State 263,
Top 10 individuals — 1. Dani Jones, CU, 18:57.3; 2. Katie Rainsberger, Oregon, 18:58.5; 3. Amy-Eloise Neale, Washington, 18:58.7; 4. Vanessa Fraser, Stanford, 19:02.6; 5. Grayson Murphy, Utah, 19:03.8; 6. Lilli Burdon, Oregon, 19:07.8; 7. Fiona O’Keefe, Stanford, 19:08.5; 8. Kaitlyn Benner, CU, 19:09.5; 9. Sage Hurta, CU, 19:12.2; 10. Bethan Knights, Cal, 19:13.1.
Other Colorado results — 15. Makena Morely, 19:25.3; 20. Tabor Scholl, 19:29.1; 28. Madison Boreman, 19:39.5; 31. Melanie Nun, 19:48.3; 32. Brianna Schwartz, 19:52.4; 46. Taylor Tuttle, 20:12.4; 64. Val Constien, 20:40.3.
Other finishers — 17. Claire Green, Arizona (Monarch graduate), 19:28.5; 25. Elise Cranny, Stanford (Niwot graduate), 19:34.20.
Team scores — Stanford 41, Colorado 47, UCLA 103, Oregon 109, Washington 114, Washington State 138, Cal 158, Arizona 234, Arizona State 282,
Top 10 individuals — 1. Grant Fisher, Stanford, 23:44.9; 2. Joe Klecker, CU, 23:48.0; 3. Steven Fahy, Stanford, 23:51.3; 4. Alex Ostberg, Stanford, 23:51.5; 5. Mahmoud Moussa, Washington, 23:52.0; 6. Robert Brandt, UCLA, 23:55.9; 7. Ryan Forsyth, CU, 23:58.5; 8. Cooper Teare, Oregon, 23:59.4; 9. Chandler Teigen, Washington State, 24:02.3; 10. Eduardo Herrera, CU, 24:02.7.
Other Colorado Results — 12. Adam Peterman, 24:07.0; 38. Zach Perrin, 24:08.8; 32. Reilly Friedman, 24:30.8; 41. Ethan Gonzales, 24:35.1; 57. Mark Tedder, 25:04.2; 61. Christian Martin, 25:15.8; 69. Paxton Smith, 25:43.3.