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Colorado Men, Michigan Women Win Cross Country Pre-Nationals in Louisville

Thomas Curtin of Virginia Tech, Erin Clark of Colorado Take Individual Honors

 Louisville, Ky. – October 17, 2015 – Under sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-40s, Thomas Curtin of Virginia Tech and Erin Clark of Colorado were individual winners in the men’s and women’s races at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Pre-Nationals today at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park. Two-time defending champion Colorado won the men’s team title and Michigan won the women’s team title.

The Pre-Nationals provided many of the top-ranked teams in the country an opportunity to run on the Sawyer State Park course prior to the NCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships that will be held November 21. The men’s seeded race featured 11 teams ranked in the latest National Coaches Poll, and four teams receiving votes in the poll. Three of the 11 teams are ranked in the Top 10 – defending national champion and top-ranked Colorado, along with third-ranked Oregon and 10th-ranked Georgetown. The women’s seeded race featured eight teams ranked in the latest National Coaches Poll, and five teams receiving votes in the poll. Five of the eight teams are ranked in the Top 10 of the latest poll, including second-ranked Colorado, along with fourth-ranked Oregon, fifth-ranked Michigan, seventh-ranked Georgetown and eighth-ranked Stanford.

Curtin, a senior at Virginia Tech, went wire-to-wire in the 8,000-meter men’s race, and pulled the upset in his first-ever, college cross country individual victory. Curtin’s time of 23:18.2 was four seconds better than runner-up Edward Cheresek of Oregon (23:22.8), the NCAA Division I Cross Country defending champion.

“My plan was to stalk the leaders, but I found myself on the lead feeling great.” Curtin said. “So I just kept going. This is my first win in a cross country race, and I love this course.”

Clark, a junior at Colorado, was close to the leaders throughout the 6,000 meter women’s race. She took the lead in the final mile and held off runner-up Hannah Everson of Air Force. Chelsea Blaase, the early leader, finished third. Clark’s time was 20:00.05; Everson finished at 20:01.6 and Blaase at 20:02.6.

“I sat just behind the lead pack to see what I had at the end,” Clark said. “I was comfortable in the final mile and had enough left to finish.”

Colorado turned in a dominating performance to win the men’s team title 89 to 151 over runner-up Oregon. Arkansas was third at 164. Colorado had five runners finish in the top 15, paced by seniors Pierce Murphy (fifth) and Conner Winter (ninth).

“Very few of our guys had run on this course,” said Colorado Head Coach Mark Wetmore. “Our plan was to get a quality trip over the course and try to win along the way. We ran well enough to achieve both goals.”

Michigan’s women posted a score of 131 for a narrow victory over runner-up Colorado (151) and third place Oregon (175).

“We thought we had a shot to win today and our team ran well,” said Michigan Coach Mike McGuire. “I’m a big believer that the more trips a runner gets over a course, the more confidence she gets. We’re looking forward to coming back in November.”