ASC Sports Information Director
COLORADO SPRINGS – Adams State senior Drew Graham (Newcastle, England) ran his way to the Division II lead and automatic qualifying time in the mile on Saturday at the University of Washington Husky Classic, and for his performance has been tabbed as the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) Men’s Track Athlete of the Week, league officials announced Wednesday.
The honor is the first for Graham, an indoor all-American last year in the mile and distance medley relay and outdoor DII champ in the 1500 meter run. It also marks the third RMAC runner of the week recognition for the ASC men this season, as freshman Boris Berian (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and junior Kevin Batt (Sydney, Australia) have won the award this season as well.
Adams State continued to rake in the women’s runner of the week honors for the conference, as senior Cassie Mitchell (Tustin, Calif.) was also recognized for posting her own nation-leading time in the mile over the weekend at the Husky Classic. Mitchell’s recognition gives the Grizzlies five women’s track honors this season and is the fourth in a row for the Green & White.
Graham was the only Grizzly, and only DII runner, among the field in the invitational mile at the Husky Classic. With a time of four minutes and 1.43 seconds (4:02.63 adjusted), Graham crossed the line in eighth overall of the 26-man field, and was the third finisher in a heat won by Stanford’s Michael Atchoo with a time of 3:59.92 (4:01.12 adjusted).
His mark was good to take the top spot on the performance list for DII away from teammate Batt, and leaves Adams State with the top three times in the country and four of the top five.
Graham also cranked out a provisional mark on Sunday in the 800 meter run as he took part in the University of Washington Indoor Open. There, he ran a time of 1:53.94, good for No. 20 on the DII performance list this season.
ASC was in action in two locales over the weekend, with one contingent at the Husky Classic and another at the Air Force Invitational. In all, 13 NCAA qualifying marks were achieved, nine of which were season firsts or improvements.
The qualifying action began Friday in Seattle, Wash., with a half-dozen ASC runners posting qualifiers in the 5,000 meter run. Senior Matt Bond (Worcester, England) led the way with an adjusted time of 14:09.00, a provisional mark that presently ranks second in the distance in Division II. Also ranking amongst the top 10 nationally after Friday are freshman Matt Daniels (Arlington, Texas) and freshman Kevin Batt (Sydney, Australia), who ran times of 14:10.85 and 14:14.48, respectively. Also running qualifying times were junior David Sanchez (Farmersville, Calif.), sophomore Andrew Roberts (Boulder, Colo.) and sophomore Jovanny Godinez (Pacoima, Calif.).
The only other Grizzly improvement on a qualifying mark at the Husky Classic from freshman Boris Berian (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who lowered his 800 meter mark this season to 1:52.18, now seventh in DII.
Meanwhile, closer to home, sophomore thrower Wesley Lavong (Philadelphia, Pa.) achieved his first qualifying mark of the season in the shot put, an event in which he advanced to the finals at the DII Championships last March. Lavong placed third at the Air Force Invitational with a provisional mark of 17.29 meters (56 feet, 8 ¾ inches), moving him on to the performance list at No. 11.
The strong weekend for ASC led to a dramatic jump in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA) national computer rankings, released Tuesday. After slipping to No. 7 last week, a nation-leading gain of 61.76 points and has moved the Grizzlies up to No. 2, their highest ranking of the season.
In the final week that both past season and current season data will be used to determine the top 25, Grand Canyon (Ariz.) remains at No. 1 for the second straight week with 221.93 points, a fair margin ahead of the second ranked Grizzlies with 154.36 points.
Each Ashland (Ohio), Saint Augustine’s (N.C.) and UMass Lowell are down one spot this week at Nos. 3-5, with 142.50, 122.31 and 107.27 points, respectively.
Equaling the Grizzlies 5-spot rise and re-entering the top 10 this week is Central Missouri, which gained 29.13 points over the weekend and is now sixth with 104.04 total. Findlay (Ohio) is down to No.7 with 93.77 points, followed by Southern Connecticut (92.66), Lincoln (Mo.) (92.23), as well as RMAC foe and newcomer to the top 10 Western State (82.95) to round out the group.
With five teams appearing in the top 25, the RMAC leads the DII conference power rankings. Nebraska-Kearney is down three spots this week to 16th, just one spot and 2.55 points ahead of Colorado Mines which moved up three positions from 20th last week. Chadron State, which made a modest gain of one spot this week, is now No. 20 in the rankings.
With just over one week left until the RMAC Championships in Chadron, Neb., the Grizzlies will be heading to two separate meets this week, beginning Thursday with the Northern Arizona Tune Up in Flagstaff, as well as Friday’s Colorado Mines Twilight Open.
Then the Grizzlies will be off in search of their seventh league title in nine years at the Feb. 24-25 RMAC Championships, before the March 9-10 NCAA DII Indoor Championships which will be hosted by Minnesota State in Mankato.