The Paw Print
The Adams State College men’s cross country team has big shoes to fill after winning the National Title last fall. Losing the top three finishers due to graduation last year would leave many teams depleted. The ASC men, however, are looking to bring home another National Championship to Alamosa this fall.
With four returning All-Americans from last season, Luke Cragg who placed eleventh, Anthony Gautier who finished tenth, Nathan Sellers who took nineteenth and Ryan McNiff who came in twenty-ninth, provide a great nucleus for this year’s team.
Returners with some NCAA championship experience include Drew Graham, Edwin Cruz, Keegan Calmes, and Drew Soucy. Other returners looking to make an impact for the Grizzlies include Brandon Birdsong, Joey Divizia, Jordan Patterson, and Jovanny Godinez.
New freshman to add to the mix and looking to make an impact are Tabor Stevens from Canon City, Colorado; Cody Rosengarten from Tombstone, Arizona; Drew Ryther from Morrison, Colorado; Tim Shepard from Fayston, Vermont; Gabe Toepel from Denver, Colorado; and Alex Wills of Fredonia, New York.
Also entering the mix and hoping to find a spot on the national team are transfer students Frances Herrera and Frankie Quijada from Glendale Community College, Craig Huffer from RIT, Australia, Antoine Malarte from France, Andrew Ochoa and David Sanchez from College of the Sequoias, California, and Tommy Owen from Lubbock Christian.
The men’s team is looking for their third consecutive, eighth NCAA, and twentieth total National Championship. The men’s program has won 32 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Titles, the last five being consecutive with 33 individual RMAC Titles.
The RMAC has been a very competitive conference at Division II Nationals including last year when the conference swept the top four places. Adams State finished in first place, followed by Western State second, Colorado School of Mines finished third, and Metro State finished fourteenth at the national meet last year.
This year the rankings show the same caliber of marks with Adams State ranked first, Western State ranked second, Colorado School of Mines ranked third, and Metro ranked fourteenth.
The ASC men also received the USTFCCCA Division II Scholar Athletes of the Year award. The team is required to have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better as well as be the top finishing team at the national meet. Adams State easily won the award by having a GPA of 3.15 and winning the National Title in 2009.
When asked about the men’s team, head coach Damon Martin said, “I am excited that we are in a position that we are. We have challenges to overcome like all teams. We lost three great runners from last year, which makes people think that we are going to have a down year. We have some great returners, transfers, and newcomers who are going to rise to the occasion as the season progresses.”
The opening race for the Grizzlies is the seventeenth annual Joe I. Vigil meet to be held at Cattails Golf Course on September 11. They will also be running against dominant Division I competition at the CU Rocky Mountain Shootout in Boulder, Colorado on October 2.
They will also run against defending Division I National Champions from Oklahoma State at the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Arkansas on October 16.
After this, the championship season will commence on November 6 with the RMAC Championship, followed by the NCAA Central Regional Championships on November 20, and conclude with the NCAA National Championship on December 4 in Louisville, Kentucky at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park.