The Colorado women’s cross country pose with the fourth place trophy on Satruday at the NCAA championships in Tallahassee, Fla. (Andre Fernandez/Tallahassee Democrat)
The Colorado women’s cross country pose with the fourth place trophy on Satruday at the NCAA championships in Tallahassee, Fla. (Andre Fernandez/Tallahassee Democrat)
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It wasn’t perfect.

But after a summer spent dealing with an injury, Colorado senior cross country runner Abby Nichols left the podium on Saturday afternoon smiling alongside her teammates.

Nichols ran a personal best time of 19:37.6 to place eighth overall in the women’s 6K race at the NCAA national championship meet Saturday morning at Apalachee Regional Park.

Nichols led the Buffaloes’ women’s team, which entered the meet ranked third in the nation, to a fourth-place finish and a spot on the podium on Saturday after finishing with 187 points overall.

Meanwhile, Colorado’s men’s team placed eighth overall led by Eduardo Herrera, who earned All-American honors with a 24th-place individual finish in the 10K race with a time of 29:22.0.

It was the women’s team’s fifth top four finish in the past seven years, but finished short of a championship after winning the Pre-Nationals race on the same course back in October.

Nichols’ individual finish, though, was a noticeable improvement after placing 18th last year and 41st the prior season at the national title meet. Nichols made up ground after falling back to 14th with one kilometer remaining in the race.

“I don’t think it was perfect, but I’m really proud I pushed through and pushed through a lot of little things I faced during the race,” Nichols said.

Freshman Emily Covert 31st 19:51.8 was the only other Colorado runner to finish the race in under 20 minutes. Rachel McArthur (20:09.4) and India Johnson (20:11.7) finished 54th and 58th respectively.

NC State took home the women’s team championship with 84 points and BYU’s Whittni Orton secured the individual title with a time of 19:25.3.

“The team, what we set out to do, we did and we’re happy and all good,” Nichols said. “I was hurt pretty much the whole summer so I’m pretty pleased that the season ended like this. I’m really proud of my teammates and how we worked so hard and we created a lot of good memories.”

The Buffaloes’ men’s team, which came in ranked fifth, finished within 13 points of fifth-place Stanford. Tulsa and BYU finished sixth and seventh respectively.

Only Herrera managed to earn All-American honors (placing in the top 40) while Andrew Kent placed 45th in 29:34.9 and Stephen Jones finished 62nd overall.

Northern Arizona took home the men’s team crown with 92 points and BYU junior Conner Mantz repeated as individual national champion with a time of 28:33.1.

“I’ve known that there were at least two other very good teams and then a big pack of teams that would exchange third through ninth,” Colorado coach Mark Wetmore told CUBuffs.com after the meet. “Unfortunately we were at the back of that pack. I thought we would be fifth and we were only 13 points away from fifth. It’s just a matter of two points per guy. They weren’t terrible, it’s just a bad year to be C+ because there are too many good teams out there.”

2021 NCAA DIVISION I CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP

Tallahassee, Fla. (Apalachee Regional Park)

Women’s Team Standings — 1. NC State 84; 2. BYU 122; 3. New Mexico 130; 4. Colorado 187; 5. Notre Dame 215; 6. Stanford 233; 7. Minnesota 313; 8. Arkansas 328; 9. Iowa State 332; 10. Ole Miss 350; 11. Washington 366; 12. Wisconsin 376; 13. Oklahoma State 404; 14. North Carolina 405; 15. Alabama 428; 16. Michigan State 438; 17. Colorado St. 455; 18. Georgetown 464; 19. Florida State 468; 20. Utah 483; 21. West Virginia 489; 22. Michigan 500; 23. Northern Arizona 532; 24. Oregon 534; 25. Harvard 541; 26. Providence 594; 27. Villanova 605; 28. Utah State 638; 29. Butler 660; 30. Syracuse 768; 31. Rice 811.

Women’s Individual 6-Kilometer Leaders (250 finishers) — 1. Whittni Orton, BYU, 19:25.4; 2. Mercy Chelangat, Alabama, 19:29.3; 3. Ceili McCabe, West Virginia, 19:29.5; 4. Cailie Logue, Iowa State, 19:29.8; 5. Taylor Roe, Oklahoma State, 19:33.5; 6. Kelsey Chmiel, NC State, 19:34.6; 7. Bethany Hasz, Minnesota, 19:36.4; 8. Abby Nichols, Colorado,19:37.6; 9. Maddy Denner. Notre Dame, 19:37.7; 10. Kayley DeLay, Yale, 19:37.7

CU finishers: 31. Emily Covert, 19:51.8; 55. Rachel McArthur, 20:09.4; 58. India Johnson, 20:11.7; 76. Micaela DeGenero, 20:20.2; 85. Hannah Miniutti, 20:25.2; 96. Madie Boreman, 20:28.6.

Men’s Team Standings — 1 Northern Arizona 92; 2 Iowa State 137; 3. Oklahoma State 186; 4. Arkansas 195; 5. Stanford 236; 6. Tulsa 237; 7. BYU 246; 8. Colorado 249; 9. Notre Dame 290; 10. Wake Forest 356; 11. Wisconsin 361; 12. Harvard 364; 13. Washington 373; 14. Texas 393; 15. Ole Miss 395; 16. Portland 430; 17. Air Force 453; 18. North Carolina 460; 19. Syracuse 485; 20. Florida State 517; 21. Minnesota 518; 22. Georgetown 566; 23. Princeton 567; 24. Southern Utah 573; 25. Michigan 588; 26. Gonzaga 612; 27.  Alabama, 640; 28. Butler 643; 29. Oregon 655; 30. Michigan State 681; 31. Furman 688.

Men’s Individual 10-Kilometer Leaders (250 finishers) — 1. Conner Mantz, BYU, 28:33.1; 2. Wesley Kiptoo, Iowa State, 28:38.7; 3. Athanas Kioko, Campbell, 28:40.9; 4. Charles Hicks, Stanford, 28:47.2; 5. Morgan Beadlescomb, Michigan State, 28:50.6; 6. Adriaan Wildschutt, Florida State, 28:52.0; 7. Abdihamid Nur, Northern Arizona, 28:52.9; 8. Casey Clinger, BYU, 28:55.7; 9. Haftu Strintzos, Villanova, 28:57.3; 10. Dylan Jacobs, Notre Dame, 28:57.5.

CU Finishers: 24. Eduardo Herrera, 29:22.0; 45. Andrew Kent, 29:23.9; 62. Stephen Jones, 29:47.7; 70. Austin Vancil, 29:55.9; 85. Brendan Fraser, 30:04.5; 124. Charlie Sweeney, 30:22.1; 202. Alex Hornecker, 31:10.1.