DENVER (November 5, 2016) – Both the men's and women's Colorado State University-Pueblo cross country teams qualified for the NCAA Division II National Championships Saturday with top five finishes at the NCAA South Central Regional in Denver.
Both programs will be making their first-ever appearance at a NCAA Division II national meet Nov. 19 in Saint Leo, Florida, as the Pack men finished third and the women were fifth at the regional.
Both squads entered the race ranked third in the final U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association regional poll.
The men's team, ranked No. 8 nationally, fit right into that third spot behind No. 1 Colorado School of Mines and No. 3 Adams State University. The ThunderWolves posted a team score of 105 and a time of 2:41:29 in the 10K race.
The Pack were guided by sophomore Marcelo Laguera (Chihuahua, Mexico), who finished third overall with a time of 31:31.
Just 47 seconds separated the Pack's top four finishers, all of whom placed in the top 20 and earned all-region honors. Running in his first collegiate 10K race, freshman Paul Roberts (Boulder, Colo.) was 14th with a time of 32:04. Senior Dante Carter (Las Vegas, Nev.) ran a 32:06 to finish 16th and junior Derrick Williams (Columbia Falls, Mont.) was 19th with a mark of 32:18.
Freshman Michael Duran (Pueblo, Colo.) was the fifth and last runner to score for the team, as he was 54th overall with a time of 33:32.
The men's program was restarted in 2014 and in just three seasons will make their first NCAA appearance and 12th overall appearance at the national meet. The team has 11 NAIA National Championship berths dating from 1966 to 1990. The program was discontinued following the 1992 season. Last year, Laguera and Williams ran the national championships at individuals and both earned All-America honors.
The Pack women's team was fifth in a 6K regional race that featured five Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference programs advancing to the national meet. The Pack scored 179 points and ran a team time of 1:57:28. Adams State (43, 1:52:14) was first, while Western State Colorado University was second (71, 1:52:53). University of Colorado Colorado Springs (125, 1:55:46) was fourth and Colorado Mines (159, 1:57:23) was fourth.
The top three women were separated by only 24 seconds and all earned all-region recognition. Junior Miriam Roberts (Boulder, Colo.) was 10th with a time of 22:35, while seniors Bailey Hughes (Bigfork, Mont.) and Jordan Mathes (Boise, Idaho) were 18th (22:53) and 21st (22:59), respectfully.
The women will be making their fourth national meet appearance in program history after qualifying for the NAIA nationals in 1988, 1989 and 1990. Since 2007, three individuals have qualified for the Division II National Championships, which include Hughes and Roberts in 2015.
This year's championships will run at the Abbey Course at Saint Leo University. The men's 10K race is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Eastern, while the women's 6K championship run is slated for 9:45 p.m. Eastern.
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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.