Olympic Sports

May 17th

… Fortius, Altius, Citius … 

CU men’s golf finishes third at NCAA regionals; advance to NCAA finals for the first time in 21 years

Press release from CUBuffs.com … The University of Colorado men’s golf team finished what it started here Wednesday but it wasn’t without a few tense moments late as the Buffaloes finished third in the NCAA Central/Norman Regional and will advance to the NCAA Championship Finals in nine days.

The top five teams moved on to the Finals, with No. 17 Alabama emerging on top with a 28-under 836 team score, edging host and No. 9 Oklahoma (25-under 839).  They were in the same threesome and the first to finish, along with No. 5 Texas Tech closing with an 842 total and were third at that time.

The next threesome had a classic regional battle, three teams vying for the last two spots – the Buffaloes, Duke and North Florida – and all were within a stroke of each other over the course of the final three holes of the round.  The four scorers for CU played the last five holes at 6-under (seven birdies, one bogey), holding off a charging Duke while keeping UNF at bay.

Colorado sophomore Justin Biwer made a key birdie from two feet out on the 600-yard, par-5 8th hole that put the Buffs ahead by one on the scoreboard.  Freshman Hunter Swanson then nailed a birdie on the 435-yard, par-4 9th to clinch a finals berth, help CU to a 12-under 276 third round score, its best round ever in a regional, and a 23-under 841 finally tally that enabled the Buffs to jump Texas Tech into third place.

And scoring well on No. 9 was no easy task, as it played the fifth-toughest here this week; the players that scored for CU made three pars along with Swanson’s birdie, and CU’s fifth-man, sophomore Tucker Clark, also birdied the hole.

It was enough to hold off Duke, as the Blue Devils claimed the fifth (843 score) and the final qualifying spot thanks to three birdies on No. 9, while North Florida could only muster a single birdie that was wiped out by a bogey and finished with an 844 count.  All three had their players answer the final round challenge – CU’s fifth score that didn’t count was a 72, while Duke and UNF tossed out 73s.

“I’m incredibly proud of the team, especially since this was probably the closest regional from first to sixth place that I’ve ever seen,” head coach Roy Edwards said.  “I have so many positive and proud things I have to say about the team.  We went to a southern golf course hosted by a southern school, with mostly southern teams.  It says a lot about the team’s overall competitiveness and their fight.

Less than a month ago, the Buffs finished a disappointing 11th in BYU’s Cougar Classic.  But since, CU spent all four rounds in the top three, including leading at several junctures, in the Pac-12 Championship before finishing third, and were never out of the top five here from the get-go.

“BYU was interesting because we didn’t play well at all,” Edwards recalled.  “It wasn’t because of a lack of effort, and everyone’s attitudes were good.  But the last six or seven weeks, everybody was dedicated to really working on their short games, and it paid off at Stanford and was really the difference this week.  It was not a fluke that we beat some really good teams and nearly won the tournament.”

CU for the most part avoided big numbers in both meets, something Edwards calls the “jumbo” stat – the percentage of holes over bogey compared to rounds played.  Between the conference championship and regional, the Buffs had just 13 out of 702 holes worse than a bogey, with only four of those figuring in team scoring.

The NCAA Finals will take play at Grayhawk Golf Club due north of Scottsdale, Ariz., beginning May 26.  Four days of stroke play will open the event, with the field cut to the low 15 teams after three rounds.  The top eight will then advance into match play, with quarterfinals and semifinals set for May 30 and the championship match on May 31.  Texas is the defending champion and qualified out of the fifth spot in the Bath, Mich., regional.

NOTES: The eight strokes that separated first through sixth made this regional the most hotly contested; next tightest was the Morgan Hill (Calif.) event where 15 strokes separated the top six … Alabama had all five of its players finish under par (all in the top 28), while CU and Texas Tech had their quintets all finish par or better and in the top 39 … Thirteen of CU’s 15 scores were between 67 and 73 … The 23-under 841 was easily CU’s best score ever in a regional, topping a 2-under 862 in 2018, the only other subpar effort … The average score for all 225 rounds was 72.25, with the lowest average of 71.20 coming in Wednesday’s final round when there were 21 rounds in the 60s (after just 26 the first two rounds), along with 46 subpar rounds overall and another eight even-par efforts … Colorado played the par-4’s the second-best at 1-under (trailing only Alabama’s 9-under), the par-3s at 4-over (tied for fifth) and the par-5s at 19-under (tied for sixth) … The Buffs led the field in pars with 183 (‘Bama was next with 179), tied for third in eagles (2) and finished eighth in birdies (50, North Florida led with 67) … The Buffs also had the third-lowest bogeys (32, Alabama had 29 and Oklahoma 30), and with 35 holes worse than par overall, tailed only the Crimson Tide (31) … How much does Swanson love golf according to Edwards?  After returning to Colorado tonight, he departs in the morning to play in the U.S. Four Ball this weekend in South Carolina) … McDermott remains CU’s stroke average leader with a 69.95 mark for 37 rounds, with Biwer (70.81), Clark (72.08), Swanson (72.32) and Holland (72.85) joining him as the first Buff quintet to all have sub-73 averages this late in a season.

NOTES II: The Pac-12 placed eight teams in five different regionals this postseason and four have advanced to the finals:  CU, Arizona State and Stanford finished 1-2 in the Las Vegas regional, and Oregon finished third in the Bath regional.  Not advancing were Washington (sixth, Auburn regional), Cal and Arizona (sixth and eighth, Morgan Hill (Calif.) regional, and Oregon State (11th, Las Vegas).

NOTES III: This tied CU’s second-best finish in a regional (third in 1989, the first year of the format); the only better finish was second in 1994 … Colorado, ranked No. 52, is the lowest ranked team of the 30 to make the finals; No. 54 Clemson came close, but lost to No. 14 Texas A&M in a playoff for the fifth spot in the Salem Regional … Edwards said CU will utilize the same line-up for the finals, with Hughes at present to be the sub … Though it has been 21 years since CU last qualified for the NCAA Finals (the 2001-02 season), two Buffs advanced out of regional play, Tolan (2008) and David Oraee (2015) … CU’s best finish in the NCAA finals was a tie for eighth place in 1968 … Oraee and another Buff alum, Kevin Kring were in attendance for the final round.


April 24th

… Fortius, Altius, Citius …

CU women’s basketball fares well at annual CUSPY Awards, including “Sports Moment of the Year”

Press release from CUBuffs.com ….

 Several major awards were presented Monday night as the University of Colorado honored its best in athletics at the 23rd annual CU Sports Performers of the Year (CUSPY) Awards.

Almost 400 student-athletes, coaches, staff and C-Club board members attended the annual year-end celebration, which as always was organized by CU’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for the 2022-23 athletic year.

The Female Athlete of the Year was Jaylyn Sherrod, who led the women’s basketball team to a 25-9 record, a third place finish in the Pac-12, a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA tournament and a No. 21 final national ranking.  In earning first-team All-Pac-12 Conference and All-Pac-12 Defensive team honors, she started all 33 games she appeared in, averaging a career-high 11.3 points per game.  She had 167 assists, tied for the fourth-most in a single season at CU, along with the ninth-most steals (78).  She scored the tying points with 34 seconds left that forced overtime in CU’s eventual 61-53 win at No. 3-seeded Duke to advance the Buffs into the Sweet 16.

Sherrod recently announced she would return for her fifth year at CU, taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Three others were finalists for the honor, Bailey Hertenstein (cross country), Civana Kuhlman (soccer) and Charlie Rudy (lacrosse).

The Male Athlete of the Year Award was shared by graduate student Filip Forejtek (skiing) and sophomore Dylan McDermott (golf).

Forejtek repeated as the individual champion in the NCAA Giant Slalom, earning first-team All-America honors in the process.  In the 70-plus years of the NCAA Championships, he was just the third skier to repeat as the GS champion, and the first Buffalo to accomplish the rare feat.  That effort gave CU the first day lead and helped the Buffs to an eventual runner-up finish.  He won two races out of six he finished, with five top 10 finishes including three podium (top three) efforts.  He also earned second-team All-Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association accolades, and was also a member of the National Collegiate All-Academic Ski Team.

McDermott has enjoyed a stellar sophomore season to date, and should contend for Pac-12 medalist honors later this week at Stanford.  Through last Saturday, he owned a 70.17 stroke average for 30 rounds (which included a record 13 in a row of either par or better), as he is flirting with the school’s single season record.   He has the fourth-best stroke number in the Pac-12 and is tied for the 38th-best nationally with seven top 10 finishes to his credit.  He has been under par in nine of 10 events, already another school mark that included a record seven in a row, with his 69.67 fall stroke average also a CU-best.  He opened the season with medalist honors at Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish Classic, his 200 total a 54-hole Buffalo record for courses of all par configurations.

The three other finalists were Magnus Boee (Nordic skiing), Tristan da Silva (basketball) and Isaiah Givens (track).

               Forejtek was the unanimous choice for Male Career Athletic Achievement Award.  The two-time RMISA Most Valuable Skier was the 2022 National Skier of the Year and earned six total All-American honors, including four first-team.  The aforementioned just third skier to win back-to-back giant slalom titles at the NCAA championships, he snapped a 60-year old school record with 29 total top five finishes in alpine events.

The other finalists included Alex Fontenot (football) and Adam Matteson (golf).

Rudy of the women’s lacrosse team was the recipient of the Female Career Athletic Achievement Award.  The current leader in the Pac-12 Conference in both goals (61) and points per game (4.1), including this year will have led the Buffaloes in scoring three of her five seasons.  Heading into this week’s regular season finale against Oregon, in 69 career games she has 189 goals and 37 assists for 226 total points (second all-time at Colorado in goals and points).  She has those goals on 451 career shots, which translates to a 41.9 percentage.  She has made an All-Pac-12 team all four previous seasons (first-team in 2022), and is a five-time Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.

The three other finalists for the honor were Antonia Balzert (tennis), Kaitlyn Harsch (alpine skiing) and Meegan Hart (volleyball).

Isaiah Givens of the indoor track team won the Male Freshman of the Year honor.  In establishing a school record for the indoor mile in a time of 3:55.99 in Seattle in late February (nearly one second better than the previous mark), he qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships as a freshman, a rare accomplishment.  Unfortunately, he was unable to compete at nationals due to an illness.  He had already become the youngest Buffalo to ever break the 4-minute mile when he ran 3:59.57 two weeks earlier in the Husky Classic.

Other finalists were Hugo Hinckfuss (Nordic skiing), Hunter Swanson (golf) and Van Wells (football).

Lily Assini of the lacrosse team and Juliauna Hayward of the soccer team shared the Female Freshman Athlete of the Year Award.

Assini has appeared in all 15 games to date for the Buffs, with the midfielder scoring six goals (on only 17 shots) with three assists on the season; she is seventh on the team with nine total points.  She is currently second on the team in draw controls with 29, and is tied for eighth in ground balls with 12.

Hayward earned first-team Pac-12 All-Freshman team honors, and was also a third-team All-Pacific Region selection by the United Soccer Coaches.  She finished sixth on the team in scoring with eight points (two goals, four assists), despite missing the last six matches due to injury.  She scored a goal in her collegiate debut against Weber State.

The other finalists were Elena Grissom (Nordic skiing) and Carri Hayes (tennis).

SAAC members selected several award winners, including the staff member of the year which was awarded to Rawley Klingsmith, the head trainer for men’s basketball and dance.  He was selected among four finalists, the others being Heather Cracraft (assistant to athletic director Rick George), Katherine Kubancik (assistant director of CU’s leadership and career development – and last year’s recipient), and Skylar Rubalcaba (assistant sports performance coach).

The Student Athlete Support Award was presented to the sports medicine staff, with the other finalists the custodial staff and the psychological health and performance staff.

In addition, nominations are submitted by many for CU’s Sports’ “Moment of the Year.”  From a list of solid choices, they were narrowed down to four, with the winner selected during the event by votes from those in attendance.   The four finalists were the hiring of Deion Sanders as football coach; the women’s basketball team’s Sweet 16 run; the women’s cross country team winning the Pac-12 championship; and the ski team finishing second at the NCAA Championships.  And the winner was … coach JR Payne’s women’s basketball team advancing to the Sweet 16 for the seventh time overall in school history, but for the first time in 20 years.

The SAAC Distinguished Service Award, presented to senior members who contributed significantly to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee during their CU careers, was awarded to eight student-athletes: Balzert, Carley Bennett and Alisa Meraz-Fishbein (cross country & track); Jaida Drame (track and field); Alyssa Duke (soccer); Joshka Gustav (football); Savannah Perry (volleyball); Issy Simpson (women’s golf).  Two Ralphie Handlers were also honored, Michael Duran and Caitlyn Mendik, along with two members of the cheer squad, Bianca Barrios and Emma Yang, and two from the dance team, Jacelyn Hays and Chloe Patterson.

The Spencer Nelson Buffalo Spirit Award, formerly the Athlete’s Choice Award and renamed for the CU skier who died in a tragic hiking accident in August 2010, was presented to Carley Bennett (cross country and track) and Cleo Braun (alpine skiing).  Bennett was a strong leader who overcame several injuries during her CU career.  She was noted for always being a supportive friend on and off the track and coordinate many events for the cross country and track teams.  Similarly, Braun overcame many injuries and despite those setbacks proved to be a terrific leader.

The other finalists were Sherrod, Brendan Fraser (cross country), Bella Grust (soccer).

The Sports Performance Awards for strength and conditioning accomplishments (or “lifters of the year”) were presented to Ian Gilmore (men’s track and field) and Jaida Drame (women’s track and field).

Two honors in just their second year were the Championing Change awards, which were awarded to both a staff member, LaTonya Watson (associate director of academics) and a student-athlete, Gya’ni Sami (track and field).

The Ceal Barry Leadership Awards are given to those student-athletes who most effectively inspire their team, the CU campus and the community in general through their exemplary commitment, their composure in the way they represent themselves and in the integrity of their actions.   The recipients were da Silva, Sami, Hannah Cardenas (soccer), Jake Derouin (cross country and track), Aya El Sayed (tennis) and Avery McMullen (track and field).

The selection committee annually leaves open the possibility that all of the above awards could be augmented once the spring sport seasons are complete in fairness to those sports (golf, lacrosse, outdoor track, tennis) that still have important portions of their seasons and/or NCAA events still ahead of them (Pac-12 championships and NCAA’s are still down the road for men’s golf, lacrosse, track and field and tennis).

Originally created in 2001, the annual event remains one of the most popular among the athletes, as they have tailored the function to be the final social gathering solely amongst themselves for the last time before finals and summer vacation, if not for a longer period of time for those graduating.  It is believed to be one of the only events in the country almost entirely organized by the student-athletes, and certainly was among, if not, the first.


March 11th 

… Fortius, Altius, Citius … 

Buffs finish second at NCAA ski championships to conclude a trying season

From the Daily Camera … It hardly was an easy season for the Colorado ski program.

Yet that didn’t stop the Buffaloes from reaching their usual heights on the national stage.

The Buffs completed a trying season on Saturday by finishing second at the NCAA championships. After leading the four-day competition through the first two days, CU ultimately finished just 34.5 points behind Utah, which won its fourth consecutive national championship and its 16th overall.

The Buffs outpaced state rival Denver, which finished third, by 75 points.

The season began with the abrupt firing of former coach Andy LeRoy after just one season on the job in place of Colorado legend Richard Rokos. It ended with four top-10 finishes in the final event on Saturday, the Nordic 20K classic.

“It was the closest that we ever been in past couple of years to Utah,” interim head coach/Nordic coach Jana Weinberger said. “We needed something very special to win, that did not happen, but for this team to get second place, that’s nothing to be ashamed of or hang our heads about. We always want to win, that’s our goal, and if a couple of different things would have happened, we could have won. Yesterday, slalom, anything can happen. There was some unfortunate things that happened, but they also happened to Utah.  You can’t say could have, would have, but I’m happy with this team’s performance this week.”

Hanna Abrahamsson led the way for the Buffs on Saturday, finishing second in the women’s 20K classic with a time of 1 hour, 23.9 seconds, crossing the line 19.6 seconds behind Utah’s Novie McCabe. CU’s Weronika Kaleta placed ninth (1:03:05.4), while Anna-Marie Dietze finished 11th, missing the top 10 by just two-tenths of a second.

Continue reading story here


March 10th

… Fortius, Altius, Citius … 

CU ski team in the hunt for its 21st national championship with one day of competition remaining

From CUBuffs.com … LAKE PLACID, N.Y.— Legendary coach Richard Rokos always considered slalom “the great equalizer.”  Consider things equalized.  With 75 percent of the 70th Annual NCAA Ski Championships now complete, the Colorado Buffaloes Ski Team sits in second place, just one-and-a-half points behind leader Utah and 10 points up on Denver with one day of competition remaining after slalom races Friday here at Whiteface Mountain.

On a rollercoaster of a day where each of the top three teams probably feel like they missed an opportunity to take hold of the championship, especially the Buffs and Utes, it will now come down to Saturday’s 20K classic races to determine the National Champion.

Entering the day, the Buffs held a 16.5 lead on Utah and 49 point lead on Utah and exiting the day the three teams are within 12 points with Utah holding the slimmest of advantages with 358 points to Colorado’s 356.6 and Denver’s 346.5.  There is then over a 100-point cushion to fourth place Montana State (243) as the three western rivals battle it out.

The first roller coaster moment came in the men’s race when Filip Forejtek, Wednesday’s GS champion, straddled a gate within sight of the finish line.  After hiking, he finished last in the first run and had his intermediate times held he would’ve finished in the top three.   Forejtek did rebound to have the fastest time his second and final collegiate run.  Jacob Dilling finished 15th and Louis Fausa 19th after sitting in eighth in the first run, to give the Buffs 30 points in the race.  Utah scored 48 points, mostly from Wilhelm Normannseth’s second place to give the Utes a 1.5 lead after the race.

The Utes had a decided advantage over the Buffs in the women’s race in terms of starting bibs.  Utah held bibs 3, 6 and 34 and CU held bibs 20, 22 and 28.  Utah’s Michelle Kerven had a similar experience to Forejtek being one of the race favorites she had to hike and finished last.  She also put down the fastest second run.

Emma Hammergaard was the star of the day, starting 20th she moved up to 13th in the first run and then another five spots to earn her second All-America honor of the week in eight place after having the third-fastest second run.  Elena Exenberger finished 17th and Kaitlyn Harsch 21st.  With Kerven not scoring, Utah was led by race winner Madison Hoffman and they also picked up a 24th place.  In the end, the two teams scored 47 points each and the Utes 1.5 point lead held.  Denver was bolstered by second, third and 12th place finish to score 90 points in the race and close the gap on the Buffs and Utes.

It all comes down to this.  Not many thought the Buffs could seriously compete for a title this week, and all the Buffs have done to date is competed for put themselves in position to win a national championship.  You never know what to expect in the slalom races, but now that the dust has settled, it all comes down to Saturday.  Looking back at Nordic action on Thursday, the Buffs and Utes scored within seven points of each other, and both teams probably feel like they can ski better.  Denver’s men’s team is also extremely strong, as well, although they are one woman short of a full team, but they are still fully in the mix, as well.

The women get things started on Saturday at 8 a.m. MT (10 a.m. local) with a mass start in their 20K classic race.  The men follow two hours later at 10 a.m. MT (Noon local).


One Reply to “CU Olympic Sports”

  1. My room mate 1990-1991 was Tony Stauntiner skiing for coach RR.. Complete bad ass helping win the National Championship.. What a time and great coach.. Taught them all how to fish 😎..

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