The Colorado cross country teams entered the NCAA finals dealing with national headlines surrounding allegations made by a former walk-on runner questioning some of the training methods used within coach Mark Wetmore’s program.
In part due to a key injury on the women’s side, the Buffaloes left the meet in Stillwater, Okla., on Saturday with one of the slowest finishes in recent history.
The Buffaloes women’s team finished 11th overall, despite a fifth-place individual finish by Bailey Hertenstein, while the men’s team placed eighth. It was the second consecutive eighth-place finish for the men’s team, while the women placed outside the top 10 for the first time since finishing 24th in 2012.
Hertenstein — who won the Pac-12 Conference championship — was the individual standout for CU, crossing the finish line of the 6K race in 19 minutes, 45.1 seconds. She was more than 17 seconds behind individual national champion Katelyn Touhy of North Carolina State (19:27.7), as the Wolfpack won its second consecutive team championship.
The next CU finisher was Ella Baran, who was 30th overall with a time of 20:09.2. Emily Covert, who finished 31st at last year’s NCAA championship but has battled an injury in recent weeks, finished 105th. The Buffs and Hertenstein were the top team and individual finishers among the Pac-12 women entries.
“Honestly, the women had a better day maybe than the team score indicates,” Wetmore said. “We’ve been nursing Emily all season through a lower leg problem, it was never bad enough to stop but it was never well enough to train fully and she just wasn’t fit enough today. But Bailey was wonderful. Ella Baron was wonderful. Elle Orie had her best race ever. Kaitlyn (Barthell) did fine for who she was as a runner two or three years ago. More good than bad on the women’s side. As I said we would have liked have been a little higher, we just needed Emily healthy.
“I think (Hertenstein) was 12th with 500 to go. She needs to continue to gain confidence. Continue to get fitter. She’s back with us next year. So she’s going to be a real force in a year. We’ve only had her since August really. She will sit out indoor season probably because she only has one left. Which means she now has five or six months to do excellent uninterrupted training. She can be an even better runner by May than she is now and then keep getting better all through next year.”
Austin Vancil led the CU men’s team by finishing 36th (29:33.3) while teammate Andrew Kent was close on his heels (43rd, 29:37.8). Stanford’s Charles Hicks won the men’s individual title in 28:43.6, but the Cardinal, the top-seeded team in the men’s field, finished fifth in the team standings. Northern Arizona claimed the team title, finishing in a points tie with host Oklahoma State but claiming the championship by virtue of the individual tie-breaker. Northern Arizona’s Nico Young (28:44.5) and Drew Bosley (28:55.9) finished second and third, respectively.
NCAA cross country championships
Women’s team standings: North Carolina State 114, New Mexico 140, Alabama 166, Oklahoma State 201, North Carolina 242, Northern Arizona 257, Notre Dame 261, BYU 263, Virginia 268, Georgetown 271, Colorado 286, Utah 307, Stanford 371, Oregon 390, Ohio State 467, Providence 468, Washington 470, Florida State 471, Wisconsin 494, Michigan State 497, Arkansas 507, Michigan 534, Syracuse 544, Oregon State 544, Colorado State 548, Utah Valley 548, West Virginia 562, Toledo 654, Cal Baptist 659, Northwestern 714, Texas 983.
Women’s top 10 (6K): 1, Katelyn Tuohy, North Carolina State, 19:27.7; 2, Parker Valby, Florida, 19:30.9; 3, Kelsey Chmiel, North Carolina State, 19:37.10; 4, Elise Stearns, Northern Arizona, 19:43.9; 5, Bailey Hertenstein, Colorado, 19:45.1; 6, Hilda Olemomoi, Alabama, 19:45.6; 7, Natalie Cook, Oklahoma State, 19:46.3; 8, Olivia Markezich, Notre Dame, 19:46.4; 9, Amaris Tyynismaa, Alabama, 19:48.20; 10, Addie Engel, Ohio State, 19:50.4.
Other Colorado runners: 30, Ella Baran, 20:09.2; 78, Gabrielle Orie, 20:29.0; 105, Emily Covert, 20:39.0; 129, Kaitlyn Barthell, 20:47.6; 228, Alisa Meraz-Fishbein, 21:44.8; 234, Whitney Valenti, 21:52.0.
Men’s team standings: Northern Arizona 83, Oklahoma State 83, BYU 132, Stanford 195, Wake Forest 204, Wisconsin 212, Air Force 264, Colorado 281, Tulsa 304, North Carolina 323, North Carolina State 334, Syracuse 340, Gonzaga 400, Washington 422, Notre Dame 450, Oregon 465, Harvard 474, Texas 506, Villanova 513, Tennessee 517, Butler 553, Virginia 557, Arkansas 584, Ole Miss 598, Montana State 599, Utah State 618, Alabama 683, Colorado State 704, Princeton 712, Georgetown 752.
Men’s top 10 (10K): 1, Charles Hicks, Stanford, 28:43.6; 2, Nico Young, Northern Arizona, 28:44.5; 3, Drew Bosley, Northern Arizona, 28:55.9; 4, Dylan Jacobs, Tennessee, 28:58.0; 5, Alex Maier, Oklahoma State, 28:58.2; 6, Graham Blanks, Harvard, 28:58.4; 7, Casey Clinger, BYU, 28:58.7; 8, Isai Rodriguez, Oklahoma State, 28:59.9; 9, Parker Wolfe, North Carolina, 29:00.4; 10, Ky Robinson, 29:07.4.
Colorado runners: 36, Austin Vancil, 29:33.3; 43, Andrew Kent, 29:37.8; 68, Seth Hirsch, 29:563.4; 69, Charlie Sweeney, 29:53.8; 86, Brendan Fraser, 30:06.9; 111, James Overberg, 30:20.4; 115, Hunter Appleton, 30:21.2.