November 3, 2007

Dunsmoor qualifies for nationals with seventh place finish at regionals

VERMILLION, S.D. - CSU-Pueblo senior Lauren Dunsmoor cut more than one minute off of her second place time at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships to put up a time of 21:21 and secure a spot in the national championships, finishing seventh at the NCAA Division II North Central Regional meet at the University of South Dakota campus Saturday.

Dunsmoor improved over her time of 22:33 at the RMAC Championships, staying entrenched in the leading pack and being one of only two individuals to qualify for the National Championships. The top five finishing teams all received entries into nationals, along with the top two individual finishers not included on one of the top five teams. As a team, the ThunderWolves finished 21st out of 22nd teams.

Dunsmoor's big improvement was won that was seen across the board by the competitors who had taken part in the RMAC Championships, thanks largely to the transition of the hilly course in Durango to the flatter course in Vermillion. As a result, each of the five CSU-Pueblo runners posted personal bests.

"The course was very fast, but there was bitter cold, and that was something we had to overcome," Pack coach Chad Perry said. "Everybody did their part to contribute to our great performance."

Dunsmoor's performance was strong, benefitting from the flat course to stay primarily within the head of the pack, which included the top eight to ten runners in the meet. The biggest obstacle was the cold, which was in the 40s at the time of the race and made conditioning and mental toughness key.

"The cold always make your muscles tighter and it's natural for your body to tense up in those conditions," Dunsmoor said. "I just had to tell myself to relax. My mindset was that it wasn't up to me. It was up to God and I was just along for the ride."

The Pack's 21st place finish, which doesn't seem impressive on paper, is when you consider that the ThunderWolves began the season with only four runners, each of which finished consistently at the bottom of each race they had entered. Saturday, each kept up their steady improvement that saw personal bests established at nearly every meet, resulting in the best team performance of the year. Not only did yearlong members of the team, Lindsey Herrera, Rebecca Packard and Elizabeth Grossman record top times, a new addition to the team, Kari Romero, an import from the CSU-Pueblo softball team, was the team's fourth finisher, several spots ahead of last place.

"To not finish dead last is a big accomplishment for somebody who hasn't run all year long," Perry said. "You have to give her props for her performance."

Though the season is over for most of the ThunderWolves' runners, Dunsmoor will head to the Missouri Southern State University campus in Joplin, Mo. on Nov. 17 to take part in the women's cross country national championships.