NAU, Colorado Win Top Team Showdown In NCAA Mountain Region
The women's race kicked off first and featured a fifth-straight victory from the No. 2 Colorado Buffaloes over runner-up No. 1 New Mexico. The Lobos earned the individual title with a dominant performance from Ednah Kurgat, but the Buffaloes secured the team crown by putting five runners in the first 16 places. Just eight seconds separated first runner Makena Morley (seventh) from fifth runner Brianna Schwartz (16th).
New Mexico held out All-American and key contributor Alice Wright, but raced three of the top four in Kurgat (first), freshman Weini Kelati (third), and Charlotte Prouse (fifth). The team's fourth and fifth runners were 27th and 34th.
In total, Colorado scored 62 points and New Mexico scored 70 points. Behind the top two teams, BYU and Utah State secured unofficial at-large bids with a third- and fourth-place finishes, respectively.
Note: The at-large teams are based on the FloTrack NCAA Cross Country projections and are not the official selection of the NCAA.
In the men's race, defending NCAA champions Northern Arizona faced off against No. 2-ranked BYU, and the result was a dominant showing from the Lumberjacks, who placed six runners in the top 23 places.
Led by a third-place individual finish from Tyler Day and a fifth-place finish from Matt Baxter, Northern Arizona tallied a score of 49 points, well ahead of the BYU Cougars' 79-point total.
However, BYU held out some key contributors, including freshman phenom Casey Clinger. But the team still managed to safely qualify for the championship with a runner-up finish. Rory Linkletter's runner-up finish and Connor McMillan's fourth-place finish led the squad who placed all five within the first 27 finishers.
According to FloTrack's projections, the team who will receive at-large bids to the NCAA championships are Colorado (third), Colorado State (fourth), Air Force (fifth), Southern Utah (sixth), and Utah State (seventh).
The Colorado Buffaloes were led by an individual title from Joe Klecker who kicked down Linkletter to take the crown in a winning time of 30:13, one second ahead of his region rival.
All unofficial at-large NCAA qualifiers can be found here.