Denver had a 34.5 point lead over Utah and 42 point advantage over the Colorado Buffalos heading into the final day. The men looked like they delivered the knockout blow in the morning with an overwhelming performance and extended the Pioneer advantage. But, it all came down to the women’s freestyle finale in frigid, windy conditions. Denver faded while CU (1st & 3rd) and Utah (5th & 6th) owned the top 10 finishes.
In a stunning turn of events, Denver’s seemingly insurmountable lead melted as the scores were calculated. DU dropped to third place with 524 points – trailing 2nd place CU by 1 single point. Utah took the title with 541.5 points. Denver had a great four days in both Alpine and Nordic and looked on track to clinch their 24th national championship – but it slipped from their grasp in a gut wrenching, slow motion 15K cross country women’s finale.
The Pioneers fell behind early and could never make up the time.
The DU men’s side delivered a sterling performance in the morning with all three men in the top eleven:
The women’s finale 15K freestyle looked like a coronation. But sports are won on the field, not on paper.
In the final freestyle event, the DU women’s freestyle trio fell behind early and trailed the charging Buffs and Utes squads who were determined to exert pressure on DU. DU could not respond to the pace. DU’s best finisher was Sylvia Nordskar in 11th. It was an uncharacteristic performance by a solid Denver women’s side for DU.
Still, DU did everything possible to be positioned for the team win heading into the finale.
Congratulations to the Pioneers, men & women, on an outstanding 2017 NCAA Championship effort.
LetsGoDU’s guest columnist Tim Healy will recap the final day and the championship.