UCCS Senior Payne Takes 16th Place at National Cross Country Championships

published February 7, 2009

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs senior Shannon Payne took 16th place at the USA National Cross Country Championships/World Team Trials Saturday.

Payne's finish was high enough to earn consideration for selection for the U.S. Team for the World Cross Country Championships or NACAC Championships (North America, Central American and Caribbean). Over the next couple weeks the teams will be announced.

Payne was followed by UCCS alum Sarah Shepard in a very solid 23rd overall. Also a great race for her while competing in first US Championship as well. Shepard was recently coming off of a 1/2 marathon PR of 1:16:49 only three weeks ago.

“The weather was nice apart from the wind,” said UCCS coach Mark Misch. “The course was a 2k (2000m loop) that was extremely hilly and muddy. Truly this was championship cross country course for the strongest.”

In the women's 8k championships, UCCS's Shannon Payne worked her way through the field and up the muddy hills to finish in outstanding 16th place overall (one of only a couple collegiates to finish in the upper tier of the field. At this time Payne has indoor eligibility remaining, but is already qualifier for the 5000m at the NCAA II Indoor National Championships March 13-14th, but she will be competing at the RMAC Indoor Champs Feb 27-28th.

Up next was the men's 12k championship race and the field was absolutely stacked as always. Out of 195 men, Gabe Small finished a tremendous 63rd followed right behind by Dan Pinter in 66th. For both of these men, there is no doubt this was also the best effort of their careers, especially against the field. These men ran a text book race to work through the field and pass about 30 or so men from about 2k on.

“As the head coach of the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs this was one of the most gratifying days I could ever imagine,” said Misch. “These people proved that if you believe in what you are doing then you can accomplish things that no one would ever expect of you. I always say this is the greatest equal-opportunity sport in the world. It doesn't matter where you grow up, what school you go, how you ran in high school or how big your college is. If you commit yourself to something and believe in your heart, then it is possible to do something truly special.”

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