Men’s and women’s cross country place high at nationals

Dec. 10, 2012

Jonathan Toman
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Last year, the UCCS men’s cross country team placed 19th out of 24 teams at the national championship, and the women’s cross country team did not qualify. But those results have changed.

The men’s and women’s teams finished their seasons with a run in the Division II National Championships, both leaving with good results.

On Nov. 17 in Joplin, Mo., the men finished 11th, while the women went one better, finishing 10th. The 32-team field was the biggest ever at the Division II championships with almost 250 runners competing in both races.

The race will only get bigger as more NAIA schools switch to Division II, according to Mark Misch, the head coach for UCCS men’s cross country.

“When 10 to 12 people come through every 10 seconds, it becomes tough for coaches to predict what’s going to happen,” Misch said.

“Our goal at the start of the season was to make it to nationals, because we had a lot of new faces. But after Minnesota (where the women won the Roy Griak Invitational), our expectations really grew,” said UCCS women’s cross country Head Coach David Harmer. “We beat a team that had finished fifth at the national meet the year before.”

“The way the girls ran was similar to every big race this year: They ran smart and didn’t lose any places,” added Harmer.

“Almost all the girls ran faster the second half of the race, which is what you want. They really believed they could be top 10.”

The UCCS women were paced by All-American senior Megan Burrell, who finished in 37th place, along with junior Veronica Sandoval (53rd) and sophomore Angie Martell (84th).

The UCCS men were led by sophomore Emilio Trujillo, who finished 61st, along with senior Oliver Williams (75th) and fellow senior Mike English (80th).

After nationals, both teams got a break to rest and recover. Next on the horizon is the indoor season, which begins following Christmas break.

The men’s team loses one senior this semester and will lose three more in May. The women will lose two runners in May as well. Despite these looming losses, the outlook is bright for both teams.

“It will be interesting to see how things pan out, but a lot of young guys did well and gained a ton of experience,” said Misch.

“You just want to be the best you can be with the people you have,” added Misch. “And November is when it counts.”