NEW ORLEANS (June 1, 2017) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's cross country and track and field programs have combined to finish seventh in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Men's Program of the Year standings, which ranks the top NCAA Division II programs in 2016-17.
"I'm proud of our student-athletes for consistently competing at a high level from the middle of August through the end of May," said CSU-Pueblo Head Cross County and Track and Field Coach Matt Morris. "They have to train and compete during breaks, stay after finals are done and miss a lot of class. It's really a testament to how hard they work, the energy they put in and how dedicated they are. We are moving in the right direction and look forward to being even higher in the rankings next year."
The USTFCCCA Program of the Year Award is bestowed annually to the most outstanding cross country/track & field programs in each of the NCAA's three divisions and for each gender. The award honors the institution that has achieved the most success in each academic year (spanning the cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field seasons) based on the institution's finish at the NCAA Championships.
The ranking comes just three years after the return of the programs following a 21-season hiatus. There are about 300 NCAA Division II institutions with cross country and track and field programs.
The ThunderWolves cross country team got it started by finishing ninth at the NCAA Championships, which was the program's third top 10 finish at a national championship. Sophomore Marcelo Laguera (Chihuahua, Mexico) earned All-America honors after finishing 22nd.
The Pack finished tied for 18th at the NCAA Indoor Championships after collecting 11 points. The men's distance medley relay team finished third to earn All-American honors. The squad consisted of senior Dante Carter (Las Vegas, Nev.), junior Dueth Vassell (Denver, Colo.), sophomore Devundrick Walker (Aurora, Colo.) and junior Derrick Williams (Columbia Falls, Mont.). Williams also earned All-American honors in the 3000m run after finishing fourth.
Finally, Williams totaled seven team points for CSU-Pueblo at the NCAA Outdoor Championships to finish tied for 36th. He earned two All-American honors with a fifth-place finish in the 3000m steeplechase and was sixth in the 5000m run.
The ThunderWolves were third among Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference teams. Adams State University won its ninth straight program of the year award, while Western State Colorado University was sixth.
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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.