Payne Wins Central Regional, Qualifies for Nationals

By Doug Fitzgerald published November 8, 2008

KEARNEY, Neb. â€" Shannon Payne is headed to nationals, and sheâ€TMs headed there as one of the favorites.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs runner won the NCAA Division II Cross Country Central Regional Saturday and, in so doing, will head to the national championship at Slippery Rock, Penn., on Nov. 22.

There, Payne will attempt to become only the second UCCS athlete to win an individual national championship. Moses Tum accomplished the feat in outdoor track, winning the 1,500-meter run in 2005.

Payne will be among the favorites at nationals. The Central is considered the elite cross country region in the nation, making the winner of the regional a serious threat at nationals.

“Obviously, if youâ€TMre one of the best in this region, youâ€TMre one of the best in the country,” said UCCS coach Mark Misch. “Sheâ€TMs running the best sheâ€TMs ever run. I think sheâ€TMs one of the girls that has a shot to win it.

“I donâ€TMt want to put any extra pressure on her, but she already knows what it takes to compete at the top level and what it will take to have a shot to win nationals."

Payne, a senior from Franktown, covered the six-kilometer course at Kearney Country Club in 21 minutes, 14.2 seconds, a full 11.6 seconds ahead of second-place Heather Wood from Adams State. Lavenna Mullenbach, took third at 19:25.9, a tenth of a second behind her teammate, Wood.

The weather made an already difficult course daunting. Fueled by 25-MPH winds, the wind-chill factor dove into the low 20s. That made the courseâ€TMs two substantial hills even more difficult.

“The harder the course, the better she is,” said Misch about Payne. “Thatâ€TMs what sheâ€TMs best at. Sheâ€TMs tough as nails; she epitomizes what you would imagine a great competitor should be.”

Payneâ€TMs Mountain Lions took eighth as a team and were just 37 points away from qualifying for nationals as a team.

“This is the best region in the country,” said UCCS coach Mark Misch. “Taking eighth place is nothing for our team to hand their heads about.”

Adams State, Augustana, Western State, Minnesota-Duluth and Metro State all qualified. Either Adams State or Western State has won every national championship since the schools joined NCAA Division II in 1992.

Alicia Del Pardo finished second among UCCS runners and 29th overall with a time of 21:09.80. Kaitlyn Frier was next, just under 12 seconds later. Tavia Hammond was 75th, Christy Severy 77th, Lauren Bowers 94th and Paige Hall 107th.

Severy, Bowers and Hall had all been battling injuries. Had any one of the three been able to keep pace with Frier and Del Pardo, UCCS would have qualified for nationals as a team. In races run earlier this season, Severy and Bowers had done just that.

“Kaitlyn Frier and Alicia Del Pardo nailed it,” said Misch. “We had three kids competing at well under 100 percent. If they had been healthy, it would have made a big difference.”

Payne just might have had some company on her trip to Pennsylvania.

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Additional News Stories
November 14, 2009Payne Named USTFCCCA Central Region Athlete of the YearShannon Payne of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Central Region Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Year, the USTFCCCA announced Thursday.
October 4, 2009Payne Wins Rocky Mountain Shootout, Both Teams Take FourthBOULDER – In her most recent competition, Shannon Payne was impressive in an NCAA Division I cross country meet. Saturday, she did herself one better.
February 7, 2009UCCS Senior Payne Takes 16th Place at National Cross Country ChampionshipsUniversity of Colorado at Colorado Springs senior Shannon Payne took 16th place at the USA National Cross Country Championships/World Team Trials Saturday.
November 22, 2008Payne Grabs Third at NationalsSLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - University of Colorado at Colorado Springs senior Shannon Payne took third place at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships Saturday at Cooper's Lake Campground.
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