NCAA Cross Country Regionals: Colorado women dominate; Stanford women and Washington men earn auto bids

Eric Evans / Washington Athletics

The Colorado women's cross country team headlined a busy day of action for Pac-12 teams looking to secure a guaranteed ticket to next weekend's "Big Dance" — the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Buffs took home the team title in the NCAA Mountain Region, dusting New Mexico by eight points. Junior Makena Morley had the highest finish for CU, coming home seventh overall. But it was Colorado's depth — with its five finishers between seventh and 16th overall — that secured the team title. 

Colorado's win in Logan, Utah, comes on the heels of its 2017 Pac-12 Cross Country Championships title last month in Springfield, Oregon.

West Regional Championships

The Washington men’s team was one of three Pac-12 squads to ensure an automatic bid for the NCAA Championships at the West Regionals in Seattle. The Huskies finished second Friday morning with 65 points, while Portland won with 59 points. A slew of Pac-12 teams followed after the hometown Huskies as Stanford (third), Oregon (fourth), UCLA (fifth), Washington State (seventh) and California (ninth) all enjoyed top-10 finishes. 

Stanford's Steven Fahy was the highest-ranked Pac-12 finisher, coming home third overall. Arizona finished 20th while ASU ran one athlete, John Reniewicki. He finished 120th.

Colby Gilbert led the charge for Washington, but it was the Huskies’ balanced plan that helped them claim their automatic bid. Andrew Gardner (seventh) and Andy Snyder (ninth) joined Gilbert among the race’s elite. 

On the women’s side in the West Region, Stanford was the runner-up to San Francisco as the Card guaranteed a spot in next weekend’s NCAA Championships.

Stanford’s 76 points included five runners in the top 24. Fiona O'Keeffe was sixth and Vanessa Fraser was eighth for the Card. 

Washington's Amy-Eloise Neale was the top Pac-12 finisher, coming home third overall. She was one of six Pac-12 athletes to finish in the top 10.

Oregon wasn't far behind, scoring 92 points and placing third. Katie Rainsberger helped the Ducks to the perfect spot for an at-large berth by her fifth-place overall finish. 

Across the top 10, the Pac-12 was undeniably strong. Cal was fifth, Washington was sixth, Arizona was seventh and Arizona State was ninth.

UCLA recorded a 12th-place finish, Oregon State was 13th and Washington State was 15th to round out the Pac-12 teams which toed the starting line. 

USC's lone runner, Amber Gore, finished 103rd. 

Mountain Regional Championships

Besides the Colorado's women running away with the win, there was plenty to cheer about for Pac-12 followers in Logan, Utah. 

Joe Klecker outkicked the field to finish first overall, helping Colorado to a third-place team finish. The Buffs are now in excellent position for an at-large bid. Colorado’s 80 points were just a tick behind BYU’s 79.

The Utah women finished fifth thanks in part to Grayson Murphy's impressive second overall finish. She was just 2.6 seconds behind the first-place runner.

What’s next? A shot for these Pac-12 teams to prove themselves on the biggest stage. The NCAA Cross Country Championships are Saturday, November 18 in Louisville. Across the country, there were nine regional championship races on Friday, giving 18 teams automatic bids for the NCAA Championships. On Saturday, November. 11, 13 more teams will receive at-large bids from the NCAA selection committee. 

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