2023 Pac-12 Women’s Cross Country Championship Preview

As usual, the Conference boasts some of the best in the country with six ranked in the Top 25

Posted on October 25, 2023

  By Steve Ritchie, SuperWest Sports

The 2023 Pac-12 Women’s Cross Country Championships, scheduled for Friday, October 27, figure to be bitter-sweet.

Pac-12Hosted by the Huskies at the Chambers Bay Regional Park in University Place, Washington, it will be the final cross-country championship meet, at least as the Conference is currently constituted.

As usual, Pac-12 teams on both the men’s and women’s sides rank as some of the best in the country. (The men’s preview be published tomorrow.)

Six women’s teams are ranked nationally in the Top 25. This preview will look at each team’s chances of winning the conference title, as well as examine the individual competition.

Over the past eight years, the Pac-12 women’s meet has been dominated by Colorado, which has won the team title five times, including in 2022 when the Buffs tied with Utah and won on the tiebreaker.

The Stanford women won twice, while Oregon took the 2018 championship.

On paper, Stanford looks like the solid favorite this year, based on season results to date.

But cross country is notoriously hard to predict because injuries are not usually reported and coaches sometimes hold out top runners until the conference meet.

As of this writing, the entries for the meet have not yet been publicly released.

But here we go . . .

The Cardinal have been led this season by Amy Bunnage, a freshman, but the rest of their roster has a lot of experience.

Zofia Dudek, who was sixth at Pac-12s last year, returns as do their other top five runners from 2022.

The team placed fourth at the Nuttycombe Invitational, which featured most of the nation’s top squads, and is the top-ranked Pac-12 team in the national polls at the fifth spot.

The Buffaloes were ranked as high as fifth nationally earlier in the season but have dropped all the way down to 20th after a lackluster performance at Nuttycombe.

To date, Bailey Hertenstein, the 2022 Pac-12 individual champion, has not competed but is still listed on the roster and appears to have eligibility remaining.

The same goes for prize transfers Natalie Cook (from Oklahoma State) and Marlee Striper (from NC State). Junior Emily Covert was third at Pac-12s last year but finished just 42nd at Nuttycombe.

Who will toe the line for Colorado?

The Utes’ meteoric rise to the top of the Pac-12 ranks culminated in the tie with Colorado last year.

But that appears to be in the rearview mirror this season, as the Utes lost frontrunners Emily Venters and Simone Plourde, second and fifth respectively last year.

Their top runner in 2023 is freshman Anna Peters and the rest of the team is on the young side.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12
Like Colorado, the Ducks have several promising transfers, including Mia Barnett from UCLA, but none have competed to date.

Like Stanford, though, Oregon has an experienced team with five of their 2022 top six back. Oregon is led by Maddy Elmore, who finished second at the recent Pre-Nationals Meet.

Elmore placed just 35th a year ago but has flourished under the coaching of Jerry Schumacher and Shalane Flanagan.

Oregon State
The Beavers come into the Pac-12s with major momentum from their seventh-place team finish at Nuttycombe, where they soundly beat Pac-12 rivals Colorado, Washington, and Utah.

After that showing, OSU moved up 21 spots in the national rankings to number nine.

OSU has the best one-two punch in the conference with seniors Kaylee Mitchell and Grace Fetherstonhaugh.

Mitchell won the Dellinger Invitational in September and was the top Pac-12 runner at Nuttycombe, where she placed fifth.

Washington football pac-12
The Huskies lost three of their top five runners from last year and Sophie O’Sullivan, their top returnee, has not yet run at last year’s level.

Still, UW is a talented and deep team that was ranked eighth nationally until a 13th place at Nuttycombe resulted in a drop of 11 spots in the rankings.

Chloe Foerster led the squad at Nuttycombe with her 40th-place finish.

Team Picks

1. Stanford
2. Oregon
3. Oregon State
4. Colorado
5. Washington
6. Utah

Individual Picks

1. Kaylee Mitchell, OSU
2. Maddy Elmore, Oregon
3. Amy Bunnage, Stanford
4. Grace Fetherstonhaugh, OSU
5. Izzy Thornton-Bott, Oregon
6. Ella Baran, Colorado
7. Emily Covert, Colorado
8. Zofia Dudek, Stanford
9. Chloe Foerster, Washington
10. Anna Peters, Utah

How to Watch

All events on Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Now app, and Pac-12.com

10 am — Men’s 8K Race

11 am — Women’s 6K Race

Steve Ritchie’s Men’s Preview coming on Thursday

—More from Steve Ritchie—