Friday, August 2, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Women's #21- Colorado

Editor's note: For the next month, The Wood Report will be counting down projected team finishes in this year's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, IN.

Head Coach: Mark Wetmore (19th Season)
2012 National Finish- 24th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Shalaya Kipp (Sr., 9:35 3k Steeple, Olympian in 3k Steeple)
  • Carrie Verdon (So.,16:14 5k)
  • Courtney Bouchet (Sr., 9:30 Open 3k, 10:30 3k Steeple
  • Rachel Viger (Jr., 16:56 5k, 35:06 10k)
  • Allie McLaughlin (Sr., 9:23 Open 3k)

Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Heather Bates (Fr., 4:56 1600m, 10:51 3200 (alt. mark), 12th NXN Nats)
  • Melanie Nun (Fr., FL Finalist '12, 10:57 3200m (alt. mark)
  • Erin Clark (Fr., 4:28 1500m, 9:32 Open 3k, 16:41 5k)
  • Hagen Reedy (Fr., 4:56 1600m, 10:21 3200m, 2 X NXN Nats Qualifier: 7th '11, 20th '12)

Season Preview

The theme of today's previews consists of solid returning veterans with potential outstanding young guns. Colorado returns in 2013 coming off of a somewhat disappointing 2012 campaign. The lone real bright spots came from the rise of Carrie Verdon and Shalaya Kipp getting fit in time to lead the Buffs. This year Colorado boasts an even more experienced squad with one of its best recruiting classes in the last few years. 

Shalaya Kipp just recently hit the "A" standard again to qualify for the World Championships in Moscow and will therefore be coming back to Boulder and to the NCAA scene a little later on, similar to last season. This means that the now sophomore Carrie Verdon will need to step into a leadership role and establish herself as the no. 1 runner.

Verdon solidified herself as one of the top freshman in the land last season. A top ten finish at the Mountain Regional was big to help her team finish third and qualify for NCAAs. After a very good freshman year on the track where she ran a good PR of 16:15 for 5k, she should be able to translate that to even better performance on the xc course. 

Colorado also brings back a core group of experienced cross country runners that are capable of being solid pack runners. Courtney Bouchet, Liz Tremblay, Rachel Viger and Jana Stolting, all have many seasons of experience running in one of the most quality programs in the country. The key will be keeping their 1-5 spread as close as possible. With Kipp and Verdon both being potential All-Americans, if these ladies can keep the spread tight, they will have a chance to do some good things at NCAAs. 

A wildcard athlete that has not been talked about for a few years is Allie McLaughlin. As a freshman in 2009 McLaughlin was unreal. She placed fifth overall at the NCAA meet. Unfortunately since then, she has been flying extremely under the radar and has not been heard of. Allie is still on the roster and talent like that does not just fly away. If she can stay healthy and keep up some sort of volume, McLaughlin could be the darkhorse on this team and someone to watch out for as an individual at NCAAs. 

To add to an already very good squad returning from 2012, Mark Wetmore has a terrific recruiting class to go along with them. Every single one of these girls are outstanding cross country runners that are also capable on the track. Each of them have experience running at a very high level in cross country which should allow them to immediately step in and roll with the Buffs main pack from the onset of the season. 

Hagen Reedy of Buchanan HS in Clovis, California has two top-15 finishes at NXN Nats and a very good 10:21 3200m PR. Erin Clark has already run times on the track that would make her Colorado's third best 5k girl on their team (16:41 PR). Melanie Nun is a local girl who was a Foot Locker finalist in 2012 and ran some very good races at altitude this past year. Heather Bates rounds out this class and adds another very quality high level cross country performer. Bates finished 12th overall at NXN Nationals in 2012. 

With all of this considered the one factor that has not been mentioned in depth is Mark Wetmore. Year in and year out there might not be a better coach in the country in terms of development of athletes, scouting runners that have very high ceilings, and fine tuning his harriers to produce outstanding performances when it matters. This is a good team that could be great. The Buffs should be able to roll through the Mountain Regional and prepare themselves to peak at NCAAs. Every team in the country should be nervous at NCAAs with how quality this team is and how good Wetmore is at getting them ready at the right time. 

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