2002 Women's Cross Country Season Recap
At the end of the 2001 season, the women on the cross country team made a promise to each other. They promised that next year there would be no heartbreak, no sorrow, and no letdowns. This promise was made after they realized that they missed qualifying for nationals by four points at their regional meet.
They kept that promise.
In 2002, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs women's cross country team qualified for the Division-II Cross Country National Championships. In cold, wet, and truly miserable conditions, the women's team finished 11th at the national meet. Their performance ranked only behind the women's cross country team of 2000 that finished 10th at nationals.
At the beginning of the season, things did not look so promising, though. The team's roster included a handful of freshmen and Sarah Vigil, who was not sure about her condition after surgery on her knee a year earlier. Amanda Occhi, the team's lone national qualifier from 2001, had graduated.
It was not long before the uncertainty subsided and things started to come together for the team. Two freshmen, Megan Lund and Michaela Emick started to emerge as quality college runners, while Vigil shot down everyone's doubt (including her own) about her ability to compete at the level she once had.
Along with the stability and leadership of junior Kelly Smith and the depth provided by sophomores Tina Gray, Sarah Cowhick, and Chelsey Cerillo, all the elements were in place.
The women had a remarkable season, winning the Colorado College Invitational with ease and rolling by their competition en route to another team victory at their pre-regional meet in Ft. Hayes, Kansas.
In their first competition of the season, the team took second at a meet in Wyoming, ahead of two Division-I teams. Once the championship season arrived, these Mountain Lions stepped it up to the next level.
At the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championship meet, the women took third behind conference foes and national powerhouses Western State College and Adams State College. The regional meet in Kearney, Nebraska was more of the same with the women finishing third in the meet.
The women's team was ranked 9th nationally at one point during the season, marking one of the best national rankings the university has ever seen in any sport. Throughout the season, the team mastered the art of pack running, which contributed greatly to their success.
Everyone contributed to the team â€" there were no superstars. Thus, no one earned All-American honors. Instead, it was a team composed of seven of the most consistent runners in the nation.
One year after the team came up just short of qualifying for nationals, they redeemed themselves in a big way. With the achievement, the women's team has qualified for the national meet in two out of the past three years.
Next year, the team will return all of its top seven runners from the squad that finished 11th at nationals in 2002. In 2003, the team will promise to be one of the nation's best once again.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured