After a two-year hiatus, the Pac-12 men’s cross country championship trophy is heading back to Boulder as No. 3 Colorado defeated No. 16 Oregon, 41-57, in an exciting race at Ash Creek Preserve in Monmouth, Ore. on Friday.
CU senior Joe Klecker raced to the individual title, becoming the first Buff to win the title on the men’s side. It’s the first individual men’s champion for Colorado since Brent Vaughn won the Big 12 crown in 2007.
“This is an excellent field, and an excellent conference,” head coach Mark Wetmore said. “There were four or five guys in there that had reason to believe they might win it and Joe’s worked very hard. He’s one of the hardest working athletes I’ve ever had. He’s finished high in this before but this is his first big win and I’m very happy for him.”
Klecker ran an excellent race in the windy and cold conditions as the temperature was just 41 degrees when the gun went off. Like usual, he was near the front of the pack from the get-go and never dropped back. He took the lead around the midway point of the race. A couple of times it looked like he was about to be caught, but each time he pulled back ahead.
“When I felt good, I just went,” he said. “I didn’t really question myself. The only thing I did was to just remember to save a gear because this home stretch is long and you don’t want to get passed up with 50 meters to go.”
Klecker, a native of Hopkins, Minn., hung on for the victory and finished the 8-kilometer race in 23 minutes, 2.7 seconds, edging out Oregon’s Cooper Teare by three seconds (23:05.7).
The women’s team finished the day fourth overall but still had a decent day with four finishing in the top 20. CU, which entered the race fifth in the national poll, finished behind No. 2 Stanford (27), No. 3 Washington (55) and No. 16 Utah. The Buffs were just three points behind the Utes (86-89) and still finished with a decent score.
“We’re disappointed, we didn’t run well,” Wetmore said. “A couple of people in the middle, Annie (Hill), Holly (Bent) and Rachel (McArthur) had good races. Madie (Boreman) hasn’t run a race in a couple of years and she came way up from behind and had a very nice rusty debut. But this is not the best we can run and we need to go back and look over the last three weeks and we need to decide if we did everything we could or if we need to make some changes between now and the next three.”
Senior Sage Hurta led the Buffs with an 11th-place finish, while sophomore Bent recorded her first conference finish, coming in 14th.
“Holly had the best summer of her life,” Wetmore said. “This summer she seems to have realized how to train like a college athlete. Had a little interruption earlier in the season and we had to hold her out for a little bit. Two weeks ago was a nice opener for her, today was another good step. She could end up a very good runner.”
Coming in third for the Buffs was Hill at 16th and McArthur was 18th as CU’s fourth runner. Senior Tabor Scholl rounded out the scoring for CU, placing 30th.
Stanford’s Fiona O’Keeffe won the race in 19:32.7.
The postseason will continue for the Buffs at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships on Nov. 15 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
2019 PAC-12 CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Ash Creek Reserve (Monmouth, Ore.)
Men’s 8k Team results: 1. Colorado 41; 2. Oregon 57; 3. Stanford 69; 4. UCLA 84; 5. Washington 87; 6. Washington State 204; 7. California 233; 8. Arizona 240; 9. Arizona State 242.
Men’s 8k Individual results (top 10)
1. Joe Klecker, Colorado, 23:02.7; 2. Cooper Teare, Oregon, 23:05.7; 3. Andrew Jordan, Washington, 23:06.2; 4. Alex Ostberg, Stanford, 23:08.0; 5. Robert Brandt, UCLA, 23:11.9; 6. Thomas Ratcliffe, Stanford, 23:15.1; 7. Kashon Harrison, Colorado, 23:18.0; 8. John Dressel, Colorado, 23:19.7; 9. James West, Oregon, 23:20.0; 10. Garrett Reynolds, UCLA, 23:21.0.
Other CU finishers: 12. Alec Hornecker, 23:21.7; 13. Eduardo Herrera, 23:24.4; 29. Gabe Fendel, 23:51.5; 35. Paxton Smith, 24:04.7; 38. Austin Vancil, 24:06.1; 73. Justice Ramos, 26:22.7
Women’s 6k Team results: 1. Stanford 27; 2. Washington 55; 3. Utah 86; 4. Colorado 89; 5. Oregon 115; 6. Arizona 191; 7. Oregon State 194; 8. UCLA 217; 9. California 241; 10. Washington State 250; 11. Arizona State 318; 12. USC 400.
Women’s 6k Individual results (top 10): 1. Fiona O’Keeffe, Stanford, 19:32.7; 2. Ella Donaghu, Stanford, 19:34.9; 3. Jessica Lawson, Stanford, 19:38.1; 4. Katie Rainsberger, Washington, 19:41.5; 5. Melany Smart, Washington, 19:44.8; 6. Poppy Tank, Utah, 19:49.6; 7. Bella Williams, Utah, 19:50.6; 8. Jordan Oakes, Stanford, 19:52.7; 9. Susan Ejore, Oregon, 19:55.2; 10. Sarah Feeny, Utah, 19:55.3.
Other CU finishers: 11. Sage Hurta, 19:57.8; 14. Holly Bent, 20:05.9; 16. Annie Hill, 20:06.7; 18. Rachel McArthur, 20:09.7; 30. Tabor Scholl, 20:34.3; 31. Madie Boreman, 20:35.6; 64. Liz Constien, 21:15.3; 83. Karina Mann, 21:32.8; 91. Bailey Nock, 21:48.1.