Mines cross country is off to a hot start. Both the Oredigger men and women won the UCCS “Rust Buster” meet by a huge margin on September 7th. Mines redshirt freshman Chris Cathcart took home the men’s win, with four of his teammates rounding out the top five. On the women’s side, sophomore Zoe Baker won the race, with redshirt senior Chloe Cook finishing right behind.
“Starting off the season at that Colorado Springs meet, we don’t really know where we stand,” said Cook. The Orediggers stood significantly ahead of the competition. “It kind of turns into a time trial for the team,” said Cook. The Mines women had a chance to go against stiffer competition three weeks later at the Capital Cross Challenge in Sacramento.
“Getting down to Sacramento to actually race some big teams, race some Division 1 teams, and some nationally-ranked Division 2 teams was really good for us,” said Cook. The Orediggers won the meet, with Cook taking the bronze spot in the race. [It was a] really big confidence booster to go out there and win and show that all of the training we’ve been putting in over the summer is actually working,” said Cook. On October 5th, the Mines men finished second at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival, behind only the University of Texas squad (yes, the division one Texas Longhorns).
As of publishing, the Mines men and women runners rank number one and number three in the USTFCCCA national polls, but this is nothing new for the Orediggers. Mines cross country teams are perennial contenders at the national level, with the men bringing a national championship to Golden in 2015. You have to go out there and be uncomfortable for a couple hours a day, and be able to put in all that work,” said Cook. “I think that’s something that also really goes well with going to Mines. People who are here and are thriving in the Mines environment will also thrive in that running environment.”
All over the place. She is from Texas, and finished up high school at Jakarta International School in Indonesia.
Cook is a graduate student in materials science.
Why did you choose Mines?
Location wasn’t too big of a factor for Cook when looking into colleges. “I wasn’t really tied down anywhere,” said Cook. “I knew I wanted to do engineering; I knew I wanted to run in college. Mines just had the best of both worlds: a really good running program, but also really good engineering.” Cook also added that being in the mountains is definitely a plus.
How has your Mines journey been?
Cook’s time at Mines has been pretty unique. She did her undergraduate degree here, and is continuing her education in Golden as well. “I made the decision to stay for grad school for a couple of reasons,” said Cook. “Obviously I still had running eligibility left.” Cook spent two of her previous five years here medically redshirted, which has allowed her to compete in her sixth academic year at Mines. “I also knew that I wanted to do a little more school,” said Cook, “and the type of work that I wanted to do required a higher degree.” So, Cook has kept running and will be graduating with her Master’s degree this December.
What’s your favorite part about running?
In short, the scenery. “You can go on a hike and spend all day and get like 12 miles,” said Cook. “I can run 12 miles and be done in like 2 hours, and still get to see the same amount of stuff.” It also is a form of stress relief. “Having that set schedule, at three or four p.m. I go to practice and I don’t have to think about school,” said Cook. “I don’t have to think about my thesis. I just get to go out there, run, get into nature. It’s nice.”
Do you have any pre-meet rituals?
“We all go to Chipotle the night before [meets],” said Cook. “I came in my freshman year, and they told us that they all would eat Chipotle burritos the night before a race. I was like ‘I don’t know if that sounds like a good idea.’ But ever since I started doing it, I am a believer in the Chipotle.” Apparently, this tradition has worked for them thus far.
What do you do when you’re not running or doing homework?
“I really like to ski,” said Cook, “and I’m starting to get into climbing too.” She admits that a majority of what she does is run, and do schoolwork. “And sleep,” added Cook. “Sleep is really important.”
What can we expect from the rest of the season?
“This is definitely a special season, a special team, especially the women’s team,” said Cook. “We’ve never quite been on this level before, and it’s kind of cool to have everyone looking at us right now. But [it’s] a little scary because we’re not going [as] the underdogs anymore.”
Mines Cross Country is back in action on October 12th, when the team will split between the FHSU Tiger open in Hays, Kansas and UCCS Open in Colorado Springs.
The RMAC Championships are on October 26th in Grand Junction.