Women's Cross Country Preview

By Doug Fitzgerald published August 30, 2006

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs cross country coach Graeme Badger is not one who drifts towards hyperbole. That's why what he says about the 2006 Mountain Lions women's cross county team should send a tingle down the spine of fans.

"We have pretty high expectations for this group," said Badger. "First, we want to get to nationals and then place as high as possible once we get there.

"Theoretically, it could be our best team ever."

That's high praise for the normally understated Badger. To achieve those goals will require talent and a bit of good fortune.

"It all comes down to everyone staying healthy, having a good positive attitude and working together as a team," said Badger.

But the talent element is clearly there. The Mountain Lions have the good fortune to be anchored by three runners who have already achieved All-American status; Shannon Payne, Sarah Shepard and Ashley Birger. A fourth, Jenna Dorsey-Spitz has the talent to achieve that level.

"With the top four, we have a lot of experience people who have been to high-level competitions all over the country," said Badger. "They have experience in pressure situations."

But Badger knows that four great runners do not make a dynasty.

"In our sport, you're only as good as your fifth-place (finisher)," said Badger.

True. Four top 20 finishers and one last place equals a middle-of-the-pack team result. For a sport with the apparent solitude of cross country, the team element is often overlooked.

Vying for that fifth spot will be 10 runners, with sophomores Lisa Short, Kristen Andersen and Leslie Bennett and even freshman Christy Severy looking good in the preseason.

"We do have some depth," said Badger. "The next tier have some base that they got last year so we hope that they'll be able to move in and give us the support we need and give us our fifth place that is so crucial."

Whether someone from that group will move up sufficiently to put the Mountain Lions among the national contenders will start to take focus Friday, when NCAA Division II UCCS competes against several Division I schools at the Wyoming Invitational.

"We compete against Division I all the time so it's nothing new," said Badger. "For freshmen it's a little bit of an eye-opener. After that meet, people feel that yeah, we can compete with some high-level teams. It gives you confidence."

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSteeplechaseSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSteeplechaseSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSteeplechaseSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSo.
Ashley BirgerAshley BirgerSo.
Kristen AndersenKristen AndersenDistance
Kristen AndersenKristen AndersenDistance
Kristen AndersenKristen Andersen
Kristen AndersenKristen Andersen
Lisa ShortLisa ShortDistance
Lisa ShortLisa ShortDistance
Lisa ShortLisa ShortDistance
Lisa ShortLisa Short
Lisa ShortLisa Short
Lisa ShortLisa Short
Jenna Dorsey-SpitzJenna Dorsey-SpitzMid-Distance
Jenna Dorsey-SpitzJenna Dorsey-SpitzMid-Distance
Jenna Dorsey-SpitzJenna Dorsey-SpitzMid-Distance
Jenna Dorsey-SpitzJenna Dorsey-Spitz
Jenna Dorsey-SpitzJenna Dorsey-Spitz
Jenna Dorsey-SpitzJenna Dorsey-Spitz
Leslie BennettLeslie Bennett
Leslie BennettLeslie Bennett
Leslie BennettLeslie Bennett
Leslie BennettLeslie Bennett
Leslie BennettLeslie Bennett
Leslie BennettLeslie Bennett
Leslie BennettLeslie Bennett
Leslie BennettLeslie Bennett
Christy SeveryChristy Severy
Christy SeveryChristy Severy
Christy SeveryChristy Severy
Christy SeveryChristy Severy
Christy SeveryChristy Severy
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