SAINT LEO, Florida (November 19, 2016) - The Colorado State University-Pueblo men's cross country team recorded their program's third top 10 finish at a national championship, while the women's squad ran to their best championship finish in program history, as the ThunderWolves competed at the NCAA Division II National Championships Saturday in Saint Leo, Florida.
"I'm extremely proud of the effort and determination shown by our student-athletes," said CSU-Pueblo Head Cross Country Coach Matt Morris. "Our athletes did all the right things this year and at this meet. We will be back at the national championships."
The Pack men entered ranked No. 8 nationally and finished ninth in their first Division II race in program history. CSU-Pueblo re-started the program just three seasons ago, following a 22-year hiatus. The ThunderWolves had appeared in 11 NAIA Championship races before discontinuing the program. The other two all-time top 10 finishes were a fifth-place result in 1966 and a seventh-place finish in 1978.
Sophomore Marcelo Laguera (Chihuahua, Mexico) finished 22nd overall to become the program's second student-athlete to be crowned All-American twice. He finished 25th at last year's championships. He ran a 30:58.3 this year with an average mile of 4:03.9.
"Our men executed our race plan perfectly," Morris said. "The race came out fast and despite being young, our guys didn't run scared."
The women's team, ranked No. 20 entering the 6K race, were also making their first NCAA Championships appearance and finished 16th, which is the best result in program history. The ThunderWolves had competed in three NAIA Championships with their previous best being 17th in 1988.
Junior Miriam Roberts (Boulder, Colo.) became the third All-American in the women's program history, as she finished 17th. She joins Brenda Gonzales (9th, 1992) and Lauren Dunsmoor (11th, 2007) on the short list.
"Our women put together a great race and executed our race plan," Morris said. "Miriam ran extremely well."
The ThunderWolves men's squad got out to fast start as planned and were leading the national championships 3K into the race. The Pack's 1-5 runners ranked 14th through 21st a third of the way into the race. At the 5K mark the young squad slipped just a bit to fourth and were 17-40. Junior Derrick Williams (Columbia Falls, Mont.) had to drop out at about the 7K mark due to an injury and that shifted the top five team scorers, which moved the ThunderWolves into eighth at the 8K mark. The space between Laguera and the number five was 17 to 117. CSU-Pueblo held their position in the final 2K to finish ninth.
The Pack ran to a team time of 159:25.9 in the 10K race and scored 322 points. Senior Dante Carter (Las Vegas, Nev.) was the second CSU-Pueblo runner across the line, as he recorded a time of 31:23.8 to finish 44th, while freshman Paul Roberts (Boulder, Colo.) was 47th with a mark of 31:25.8. The final two scorers for the Pack were freshman Michael Duran (Pueblo, Colo.) in 125th (32:41.7) and sophomore Devundrick Walker (Aurora, Colo.) in 141st (32:56.3).
The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference had four teams in the top nine, which included Adams State University winning the 2016 NCAA Division II National Championship. Colorado School of Mines was third and Western State Colorado University was sixth.
The Pack women were 12th at the midway point of the race (3K) and had three runners in the top 60. At the 5K mark the ThunderWolves were 14th, while Roberts was 20th. CSU-Pueblo slipped just a bit in the final 1,000m to finish 16th. Roberts closed on a handful of runners to capture All-American honors.
The ThunderWolves ran a team time of 111:25.4 and scored 430 points. Senior Jordan Mathes (Boise, Idaho) ran to a 64th-place finish with a time of 21:55.7. Freshman Gillian Maness (Kalispell, Mont.) was 119th (22:31.4), senior Bailey Hughes (Bigfork, Mont.) was 149th (22:51.8) and junior Rachael Lopez (Fort Lupton, Colo.) was 160th (22:59.8).
The RMAC was well represented, as Adams State was second, Western State was third, Colorado Mines was 13th and UCCS was 20th.
- 30 -
As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.