Capping off a historic season, the Colorado State men’s cross country team placed ninth at the NCAA Championships, tying for their third best finish in program history.
The Rams scored a total of 318 team points and were propelled by the performance of Cole Rockhold, who finished with a time of 29:54. With his 32nd place finish Rockhold earned his first All-American honors, joining Jerrell Mock and Jefferson Abbey as the third Ram to earn such honors under head coach Art Siemers.
“The big highlight today for us was Cole (Rockhold),” head coach Art Siemers said in a release. “He had a great year in track last year but hadn’t had that big cross country season until this year. He was hurting out there today around 5k or 6k but really kept his composure and had a strong finish to be an All-American. He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in track, that’s for sure.”
Three other Rams placed in the top 100. Grant Fischer finished with a time of 30:16 and placed 58th while Eric Hamer finished 90th with a time of 30:35. Wade Hall finished with a time of 30:36 and placed 93rd. Finishing outside of the top 100 were Carson Hume (111) and Trent Powell (175).
Uncharacteristically, Jerrell Mock finished with a time of 31:18. Mock ran within the top 10 for the majority of the race but as the 8k mark approached, he slowed down to his eventual final position of 169th place.
“We were at fourth place at 8k and it looked really good, but just had some tough luck with Jerrell (Mock),” Siemers said. “His legs just ran out of gas, and that doesn’t happen to Jerrell. This might be the only ‘off’ race in his entire running career. It’s just a freak thing that happened, and if we had to do this whole race over again tomorrow, we would’ve done the exact same thing and Jerrell’s legs wouldn’t have died. He’s the reason why we’re a top-10 program. Jerrell’s the toughest guy out there. His work ethic is second to none and he’s a total team guy. He’ll bounce back and have a really good outdoor season. I love the fight that he and this team have.”
Northern Arizona took the crown and won the men’s title scoring a total of 74 team points. The Rams finished as the top Mountain West team. Despite finishing lower than they expected at the NCAA Championships, the Rams topped off an amazing season. Their ninth-place finish is now the fifth best finish in all of CSU sports history and the Rams best finish under head coach Art Siemers’ six years.
“I know that our program is going in the direction that we want regardless of the finish today because our team thought it could finish higher and is disappointed with a ninth-place NCAA finish,” Siemers said. “I think that’s a good thing – that’s the culture and mentality we want to have. We don’t want to be satisfied unless we’re one of the top teams in the country. Another sign is that we have depth. Our No. 1 guy, our star, our All-American has some bad luck today and our team picked up the slack. You have to love the attitude of our guys. They all put it on the line and all gave it everything they had. To be able to finish ninth in the country without our top guy in our scoring five is huge for us and the direction we want to go.”
Collegian sports reporter Mamadou Balde can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @mamadoubalde62.