The Paw Print
The Paw Print
Adams State Grizzlies cross country season ended this weekend in Louisville Kansas. The National meet is a long awaited challenge for the team, a race that the runners have trained for since the beginning of summer break. For the men’s team it paid off in a victory and they are, once again, National Champions. The men’s race kicked off at 11 am Saturday. Kevin Batt, Matt Daniels, and Tabor Stevens went out strong in the lead pack of the 10-kilometer race. Stevens eventually took the lead and with him he took the individual national champion title. Stevens was confident going into the race, “I planned on being in the mix to win it. I was feeling good and wanted to test the people that were left so I just started pushing it.” This is Steven’s second cross-country title. He conquered the course in a time of 30.02.0. Daniels and Batt worked together resulting in Batt finishing fourth with a time of 30.31.2. Daniels finished close behind in fifth with a time of 30:32.4.
Chad Palmer and Jackson Sayler both played key roles in the men’s victory. Chad Palmer rose to the occasion, laying it all out for the team to finish 18th in a time of 31:07.4 with All American Honors. Palmer explained that, “I liked the course we ran, it suited me; I think that’s part of the reason we won is I’m more talented for those conditions.” Palmer came a long way this season, “At First I didn’t think I would make the team. After Joe I. Vigil Invite I thought I had a chance, and it became my goal to make the national team. Then when I made the team I decided it would be my goal to be all American.” The title of All American is given to the top 40 finishers at the National Meet. Sayler, a freshman, sealed the deal for the Adams victory as the final scorer on the team. He ran a great race, finishing 56 with a time of 31:47.3. The men’s team won by an impressive margin against Grand Valley State University, 52 to 107.
Great efforts also came from Dominic Cabada and Jackson Squid Espeset. Espeset unfortunately was tripped early in the race resulting in both of his shoes to slip off in wet muddy conditions. Espeset didn’t quit of course; instead he battled his way bare foot through the 10-kilometer course. Palmer said, “I passed Jack Espeset after the first mile and didn’t know he had already lost his shoe, I told him come on come on. When he didn’t get up with me I panicked. Knowing he was behind me was another reason I ran so hard.” Although his race didn’t go as planned Espeset gave his all and supported the team thoroughly. This is Adams third consecutive win for the men’s cross country team. Stevens said this year was a more exciting win for the team, “it was a year with a lot of uncertainties and struggles so it was a big test to see if we can win. It was also nice having Matt Daniels up there again.” Palmer explained that the experience was, “dreamy really, everything went by so fast.”
Our lady grizzlies ran their hearts out but were slightly disappointed with the fourth place finish overall. The women scored 125 points. Grand Valley took the title with 50 points. First to finish was Jenna Thurman, who was sporting green hair for school spirit. Thurman ran a time of 21:26.21 over a 6k course. She was 8th place with Maura O’Brien finishing right with her ninth place. The girls worked together to chase girls down in the last half to make top ten. Thurman recalls the end of the race, “Finishing with Maura helped push me a lot at the end. I was like oh good Maura is here, but I saw another girl with her and was like oh no, and stepped it up a gear.” Rachel Kresl gained All American honors as well with her 29th place finish and a time of 21:56. Senior Lauren Martin slipped and hurt her leg at the start of the race but did her best to help the team despite her pain. Other great performances came from senior Tayler Warren, Mellissa Roberts, and junior Miriam Jimenez. “Overall it was just a tough race that ended in heartbreak,” recalls Warren, “As a senior I wanted us to win so badly.” This season the girls won multiple titles; Joe I. Vigil Open, Colorado College Open, Fort Hays Tiger Open, Fort Hays Tiger Open, RMAC Championships, and South Central Regionals.
The week leading up to the race Saturday was popular with rainstorms. The course was swamped, challenging every runner even more than usual. Thurman said the elements made the course challenging, “Yea the course was fun and different, but the mud was hard to push off of and my legs got tired pretty quick.” Both the 10 K and 6 K courses had to be altered to avoid mud puddles as much as possible. The team camps were abandoned by runners due to three feet of rainwater pooled in the area.
This National Championship meet was unique because it was part of a NCAA Division II festival. Every Fall Sport had their National Competitions this week in Louisville. This event happens every year and rotates seasons from fall, winter and spring sports. The opening ceremonies and closing ceremony’s included all the sports like field hockey, football, soccer, volley ball and of course cross-country.
Our men’s team got a special honor at the closing ceremony for their victory as well as the other national champion teams. The festival even held a citizen 5k races to earn money to donate to the make a wish foundation. The goal of this festival is to highlight and bring exposure to Division II athletics. Palmer enjoyed getting to be in the festival, “It was awesome! You felt important the whole time, from the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony. It was well organized and fun.”
With cross-country being over, your ASU runners are looking forward to indoor track, hopefully bringing back more National Champion and All American awards.