Action from early in the men's race at the Big 12 Championship on Saturday. Photos by Paula Williams.
While it was a long way from a lost weekend for the Colorado Division I programs, any hoped-for team titles failed to materialize.
In Columbia, MIssouri, on a course sodden with rainfall from the same storm that left a pile of snow on Colorado's Front Range, the CU men and women both finished second. The women were overtaken by a very good performance by the Texas Tech women. Despite Jenny Barringer (20:27) and Allie McLaughlin (21:13) taking the first two places, the Buffs did not have an answer on this day to the 4-5-7-9-13 score posted by the Red Raiders. In fact, after Barringer and McLaughlin, only Laura Thweatt (21:52) managed to finish ahead of any of Texas Tech's scoring runners.
CU and Texas Tech will square off again at the Mountain Region meet on November 14.
For the men, there was no 1-2 finish for the Buffaloes. That distinction, plus a little, would belong to the Cowboys of Oklahoma State. Orange was the color of the day as OSU runners went 1-2-3-4-14 and completed dominated the team score.
Colorado once again had an excellent pack time, led by Kenyon Neuman (25:10) and Christian Thompson (25:18), but 7-9-12-13-15 failed to beat the Cowboys at any of the five scoring positions. Oklahoma State will be out of the picture at the Mountain Region meet in two weeks, but the Buffaloes will have to contend with BYU and New Mexico then. Both BYU and New Mexico bring solid teams, and New Mexico will run on their home course, but neither figure to be as strong as Oklahoma State. Northern Arizona figures to be a contender in the regional race as well.
In Orem, Utah, it was a better day for Air Force and Colorado State than many recent outings have been. The CSU women finished a strong third to BYU and New Mexico, while the Air Force men did the same on the men's side of the ledger. Right behind them in the team standings at fourth were the Air Force women and the CSU men.
In reality, the fourth-place finishes for the Air Force women and CSU men may have been just as encouraging as the thirds by their counterparts. Both the CSU men and the Air Force women have been struggling through the season and the finishes posted on Saturday point in the right direction. The Air Force women were led by the 20th-place finish of Sand Creek graduate Jen Bremser (22:35), while the CSU men got an 18th from Dan Wallis (24:59).
While neither the Air Force men or the CSU women could crack the Provo-Albuquerque dominance of the MWC meet, the third overall posted by Justin Tyner of Air Force (23:44) and the fifth overall posted by Ellie Rastall of Colorado State (21:18) both served to break up a sea of BYU and UNM finishers at the front and bode well for the regional meet two weeks ahead.
In Greeley, Northern Colorado hosted their own conference meet under some rather challenging conditions of snow, slop, and cold. Probably through no fault of their own, it may be a long time before the Big Sky Conference wants to hold another conference meet in Greeley.
Despite difficult conditions, however, the UNC women managed to climb two places up the ladder from last year's finish. Poudre graduate Denise Kintzley (21:23) led the way for the Bears with a 31st-place finish. Possibly due to course conditions, the women's race was only a 5.24K as opposed to the usual 6K we would expect at this time of year.
Perennial power Northern Arizona dominated both the men's and women's divisions of the Big Sky meet.
Several former Colorado high school athletes were representing schools outside of Colorado in these regional contests. Without attempting to be exhaustive, here is a list of some of these competitors:
Kaitie Vanatta, Missouri (Big 12), 11th, 21:48
Kevin Williams, Oklahoma, 23rd, 25:43 (photo below)
Bobby Nicolls, Oklahoma, 49th, 26:14
Nell Rojas, Northern Arizona (Big Sky), 9th, 20:07
Now an Oklahoma Sooner, Kevin Williams (on right).