ASC Sports Information Director
The top two NCAA Division II men’s cross country teams in the nation headlined the 18th Annual PUMA/Joe I. Vigil Open at Cattails Golf Course on Saturday morning, where the nation’s top-ranked Grizzlies rallied behind senior Nathan Sellers (La Crescenta, Calif.), who finished second overall and as the first team scorer, to take a 27-28 victory over rival and second-ranked Western State.
The win extends the Grizzlies winning streak when facing the Mountaineers to 12 meets. Western State last topped ASC at the 2007 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships. Since that time, the Grizzlies have claimed three straight Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC), NCAA Division II Central Regional and NCAA Division II National crowns, and have not been beaten by a single Division II team.
Running in his first Vigil Open, Sellers clocked the fastest time of any collegiate runner in the field, completing the 8k course in 24 minutes, 28 seconds, six seconds faster than last year’s top college time run by Ryan McNiff. Sellers, a two-time U.S Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA) All-American, was bested only by Brooks-sponsored Josh Eberly, a Western State alum, who took top honors in 24:14.
But the race was on as the Mountaineers captured second thru fourth positions, as Ryan Haebe, Preseason RMAC Runner of the Year Tyler Pennel and Gabe Proctor finished in a 24-second window.
But in quick succession the Grizzlies took fifth thru eighth in the team finishing order. Junior Jovanny Godinez (Pacoima, Calif.) led the group with a time of 25:14 for fifth, three seconds ahead of senior Matt Bond (Worcester, England) who grabbed sixth in 25:17 and shaved 18 seconds off his Vigil mark from a year ago.
Running in his first race for ASC, junior Andrew Roberts (Boulder, Colo.) was the fourth runner for the Grizzlies to finish, taking seventh in 25:22, with redshirt-freshman Tabor Stevens hot on his heels in a time of 25:23 for eighth.
Eleven seconds passed before Western State rounded out its team scoring with ninth and 10th place finishes. The Grizzlies gap between their top five was 55 seconds, while the Mountaineers’ time between their scoring group was even lower, at 47 seconds.
The Grizzlies placed all five of their scoring runners in the top eight of the collegiate race and in the top 10 overall. A 13th place overall finish by junior Keegan Calmes (Wind Lake, Wis.) and a 14th place showing from junior Edwin Cruz (Del Norte, Colo.) gave ASC seven runners among the top 15. The Mountaineers’ seventh man came across in 18th.
Behind ASC and Western State in the team scoring was Garden City CC which placed third with 88 points, and the six-team field was rounded out in order by Dine College (81), Regis University (101) and Colorado Mesa (118). Garden City’s Amos Bowen was the top collegiate finisher for a team other than the Grizzlies or Mountaineers, and finished 22nd overall and 15th in the team scoring.
Freshman Matt Daniels (Arlington, Texas), junior David Sanchez (Farmersville, Calif.) and junior Cody Hughes (Anna, Texas) also earned top 20 overall finishes while representing the Green and White on Saturday. Daniels led the trio with a time 25:49, followed by Sanchez in 25:50 and Hughes in 25:55.
Junior Jordan Patterson (Sherman, Ill.), clocked a time of 26:23 for 25th, just ahead of Travis Nemchik (Menifee, Calif.), who was the top unattached ASC runner in 26th place.
A mere eight seconds ticked by between the Grizzlies’ next three finishers, as freshmen John Luterbach (Wales, Wis.), Gabe Toepel (Brighton, Colo.) and Drew Ryther (Morrison, Colo.) finished between 26:34 and 26:42. Junior Antoine Malarte (Aix-les-bans, France) clocked a time of 26:53 for 36th, sophomore Robert Frederick (Arvada, Colo.) was 39th in 27:04, and senior Frances Herrera rounded out the ASC attached contingent in 40th with a time of 27:06.
The Grizzly women, who placed third last season at the NCAA DII XC Championships and who are ranked fourth to start the 2011 season by the USTFCCCA, faced off against the No. 1 ranked Western State women, and finished as the runners-up by a 27-45 score.
Sophomore Kelly Lamb (Creede, Colo.) and junior Alicia Nelson (Craig, Colo.) finished second and third overall for ASC, while WSC senior Lauren Kleppin ran the second-fastest time ever on the course (17:04) for the individual title.
Moriarty High School of New Mexico won the boys’ high school race with 28 points, while Durango and Alamosa followed in second and third, respectively, with 31 and 33.
Adams State returns to action next weekend, heading to Colorado Springs for the Colorado College Invitational, before heading to either the Oklahoma State Cowboy Jamboree in Stillwater, Okla., or the Rocky Mountain Shootout in Boulder, Colo., on Oct. 1.