PUEBLO, Colo. (November 18, 2016) - For the first time in program history, both Colorado State University-Pueblo cross country programs will compete at the NCAA Division II National Championships, which is set for Saturday, Nov. 19 in Saint Leo, Florida at The Abbey Course.
The Pack men are ranked No. 8 nationally entering the championship 10K race, which is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. MST. The women's squad is No. 20 in NCAA Division II and will run the 6K race at 7:45 a.m. MST.
Saint Leo University and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission will serve as hosts of the championships.
The ThunderWolves men are making their 12th appearance at a national championship after 11 appearances at the NAIA national meet (last appearance was 1990). The highest a team has ever placed was fifth in 1966. The team was seventh in 1978.
Last season the Pack sent two student-athletes to the NCAA Championships, as junior Derrick Williams (Columbia Falls, Mont.) and sophomore Marcelo Laguera (Chihuahua, Mexico) not only represented CSU-Pueblo, but returned as All-Americans, the first in program history since 1979.
The 2016 version of the Pack have ranked as high as No. 6 in the national rankings and have been in the top 10 since Oct. 5. CSU-Pueblo finished third at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships and third at the NCAA South Central Regional. In both races, The Pack were behind No. 1 and defending national champion Colorado School of Mines and No. 3 Adams State University.
The ThunderWolves recorded a 10K team time of 2:41:28 at the regional with Laguera finishing third with a time of 31:30.2. Four members of the Pack finished in the top 25 of the regional and were honored as U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Region. Laguera was third, freshman Paul Roberts (Boulder, Colo.) finished 14th, senior Dante Carter (Las Vegas, Nev.) was 16th and Williams crossed the line 19th. Freshman Michael Duran (Pueblo, Colo.) was the fifth member of the team to score for the Pack.
The Pack women are making their fourth appearance at nationals after qualifying for three NAIA National Championships (1988, 1989, 1990). The highest finish for a team at nationals was the 1988 squad, who finished 17th. The ThunderWolves have had two cross country All-Americans in program history, the first was Brenda Gonzales (ninth) in 1992 and the second was Lauren Dunsmoor (11th) in 2007.
The ThunderWolves qualified for nationals by finishing fifth at the regional meet. They ran a team time of 1:57:27 in the 6K race, which was slightly faster than their RMAC Championships 6K time of 1:57:32, which earned them third. Roberts guided three USTFCCCA All-Region performers by finishing 10th, while Hughes was 18th and senior Jordan Mathes (Boise, Idaho) was 20th. Freshman Gillian Maness (Kalispell, Mont.) has performed well for CSU-Pueblo this season and has been a steady No. 4 in the Pack's lineup, while junior Rachael Lopez (Fort Lupton, Colo.) has ran well in the last month to be the No. 5.
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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.