Rams’ cross country hangs with nation’s best at Washington Invitational

Eddie Herz

With the bright lights of ranked competition shining on the Colorado State men’s and women’s cross country teams, both teams put on impressive showings at the Washington Invitational over the weekend.

Amongst a talented playing field, the CSU men once again were led by redshirt junior Jerrell Mock. After taking the gold in the Roy Griak Men’s 8k, Mock’s time of 23:25.5 was good for second place at the Washington Invitational. The only runner to beat Mock was Oregon’s Edward Cheserek.

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“Jerrell did a great job,” Head Coach Art Siemers said. “He just looked strong again, that’s just Jerrell. He’s `Mr. Consistency’ and when you have him as one of your top guys going into every race, you know you’re going to have a low stick and that’s huge for our team.”

The CSU men finished in 2nd place overall with 39 points, just behind No. 3 nationally ranked Oregon (26 points). The Rams, who entered ranked No. 29 in the country according to USTFCCCA, handily beat No. 21 Washington (64 points) and No. 24 Washington State (127).

“On the men’s side, Coach [Scott] Dahlberg and I thought we were a top-10 team this year,” Siemers said. “We really didn’t run well at the Griak, so the guys were motivated to show what we’ve been doing all summer.”

“I thought we ran tough against Washington and Oregon,” Siemers continued. “Our fifth man beat Oregon’s fifth man, so we’re getting closer, and they’re one of the top-four teams in the country. We’ve been training at a high, high level, but to go out there and execute was great for us.”

The Rams men also placed five runners within the top 11 of the Men’s 8k. Grant Fischer, the second fasted Rams finisher, clocked a seventh-place finish at 23:35.2. Erick Hamer also finished in 9th place at 23:41.1. All-American Jefferson Abbey and Cole Rockhold rounded out the top 11, with times of 23:43.6 and 23:44.

“Jeff (Abbey) and Cole (Rockhold) had outstanding races,” Siemers said. “Grant (Fischer) and Eric (Hamer) have been consistent in training and Jeff and Cole really closed the gap on those guys. It was just fun to see.”

The CSU women also turned in their best team performance of the season. For the second time in three meets, senior Janelle Lincks was the first Ram to finish. Her 11th place finish in the Women’s 6k (20:22.2) was 28.8 seconds faster than her previous race at the Roy Griak Invitational.

The Rams were able to squeeze one other runner into the top 25 as well. Ali Kallner’s time of 20:48.3 earned her 25th place overall. Alex Hess (20:56.8), Darby Gilfillan (20:58.8) and Kate White (21:00.7) wrapped up CSU women scorers in 28th, 29th, and 30th place.

“Janelle did a really great job of moving up,” Siemers said. “She was pretty far back the first lap and just moved up to 11th place. I think the women competed really hard and we’re getting closer to where we need to be. They did a great job.”

The CSU women scored 115 points, finishing in fourth place. Washington won the women’s side of the meet with 24 points overall. They entered the meet ranked 12th in the country according to USTFCCCA. Harvard (who is receiving votes to be ranked) and fourth ranked Oregon were the only other teams to finish in front of the CSU women.

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“This was our best race so far this year, but we still need to work on going out a little bit harder,” Siemers said. “We moved up really well as a team on the women’s side and had a tight pack of runners. But, the ranked teams — Oregon, Washington and Harvard — were in the front pack ahead of us and we were kind of trailing them the whole race. We slowly caught up, but just gave up too much ground early.”

Coming up for the Rams, the men’s and women’s squads will split up to each compete in distinguished meets. The women will travel to Terre Haute, Indiana to compete in Pre-Nationals on Oct. 15. The Men’s team heads to Madison, Wisconsin for the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 14.

Collegian sports reporter Eddie Herz can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eddie_Herz