The Colorado Mountain College (CMC) Eagles cross-country team competed in Durango last week as part of the Four Corners Cross-Country Classic at Fort Lewis College. The Eagles achieved several individual personal best times and an overall team best outcome for both men’s and women’s teams.
Head coach Darren Brungardt called the weather gorgeous, with mid-70s temperatures and a cool breeze at Hillcrest Golf Course in Fort Lewis, adjacent to the campus.
The Eagles men and women both finished third as a team. The CMC men beat a team this year for the first time, Brungardt noted, finishing third out of four teams. Fort Lewis was first and Westminster (Utah) second. Dine College (Arizona) was fourth. The women finished third out of three teams.
The men’s race for third place was tight between CMC and Dine College, with the Eagles at 72 points and Dine at 95. Lower scores count the most in cross-country competitions.
The men “really gelled” despite missing one of their top varsity runners, Brungardt added.
Harrison Fries-Levy of Lafayette finished fifth overall with a time of 29:13.0.
“He battled hard and placed higher than any CMC runner has at an NCAA cross-country meet,” Brungardt said.
Ben Lague finished 15th overall at 31:08.0, and Korben Long of Silverthorne ran a personal best time of 35:00.0. Long sprinted hard at the end to pass two Dine runners. That helped ensure the team’s third-place finish, Brungardt added.
Paulo Aponte of the Netherlands had an “epic sprint finish at the end and just barely beat the runner in front of him,” the coach said.
Brungardt stated that the women’s team ran well despite injuries and illness. They also raced a 6K course instead of the usual 5K at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) level. Westminster won the team race, followed by Fort Lewis and CMC.
Abby Hagen of Illinois led the Eagles with a personal best time of 29:46.
The women “all had great sprint finishes and lined themselves up perfectly to finish ahead of their closest competitors,” Brungardt said.
Anne Mawhinney of Kansas, Brooklyn German of Michigan and Alexis Ricks of Fountain also had personal 6K records.
“The women are starting to find their groove as a squad and are looking to see what they can do as a team when they race again,” Brungardt added.
The Eagles’ next meet is Saturday, Oct. 29 in Leadville, when they will host the NJCAA Region IX D1 Cross Country Championships.
The Haunted Hills 6.66K mountain bike/trail run and children’s 1.5K fun run will follow the regional championship. The event is a fundraiser for the CMC cross-country team.