Men take third at RMAC Championships

By Doug Fitzgerald published October 23, 2004

After the menâ€TMs race in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships Saturday at Long Lake Park, Fort Hays State coach Jim Krob congratulated University of Colorado at Colorado Springs coach Graeme Badger.

“Itâ€TMs good to see somebody else get in the Top 10,” Krob told Badger.

Badger couldnâ€TMt agree more.

Levi Brathall and Moses Tum cracked the Top 10 individual finishers, leading the Mountain Lions to a third-place team finish. The strong showing by Brathall (eighth) and Tum (ninth) earned them All-RMAC recognition and broke the stranglehold that conference powerhouses Western State and Adams State have held on the All-Conference roles in recent, and even not-so-recent, years.

“What strikes me is that we have two All-Conference guys on our team,” said Badger. “Itâ€TMs harder to be All-Conference than All-American.”

More important that the individual honors earned was the team finish, which validated CU-Colorado Springsâ€TM No. 13 national ranking. In addition, the strong showing against the top two ranked teams in the nation bodes well for next weekâ€TMs rankings.

Western State, ranked No. 2, won the team competition in what was a mild upset over top-ranked Adams State.

“I knew there was going to be a war between (Western State and Adams State),” said Tum. “They didnâ€TMt consider us. We surprised them.”

But that result didnâ€TMt just happen. It was the result of a well-conceived game plan by Badger and outstanding execution by the runners.

“We ran smart races â€" we were patient in our races,” said Badger, who then gestured to a long, shallow-grade hill that dominated the early portion of the race course. “This one hill here, itâ€TMs a mental hill. Itâ€TMs not that hard, but itâ€TMs there and itâ€TMs going to change your pacing. You have to adjust the way you run the race because of that.”

One who adjusted particularly well was CU-Colorado Springsâ€TM designated hill-climb specialist Aaron Rubalcaba-Lopez. After completing the first circuit near the middle of the field, Rubalcaba-Lopez took full advantage of all of the courseâ€TMs inclines, moving up through the pack at each hill and finishing 14th.

“If itâ€TMs a steep, sharp hill it really helps Aaron because he just shuffles up it,” said Badger.

One of the most important factors lifting CU-Colorado Springs past fourth-place Colorado School of Mines was the return of Brad Winn, who finished 22nd.

“That was (Winnâ€TMs) first race in a long time because of an injury,” said Badger. “He ran real well.”

Winnâ€TMs return to racing was not only important Saturday, but will be a huge boost at regionals as well.

“Iâ€TMm almost back to where I was before the injury,” said Winn. “Iâ€TMm getting better every day. Iâ€TMm feeling like Iâ€TMm getting back to where I can be and will be.”

Finishing fifth for the Mountain Lions and 28th overall was impressive freshman Jason Braun. Jay Luna (33rd), Phil Harrison (43rd) Kyle Reno (54th) and Brian Zakavec (60th) also ran for CU-Colorado Springs. Only the top five finishers for each school counted towards the team scores.

“We wanted to close our pack time up a little bit â€" the distance between our first runner and our fifth,” said Winn. “I think we did a pretty good job of that.”

With the RMAC championships behind them, the Mountain Lions will now focus their attention on regionals, which will be held at Vermillion, S.D. It will take a particularly strong showing there if CU-Colorado Springs hopes to qualify for nationals on Nov. 20 at Evansville, Ind.

“Weâ€TMll train hard this week then taper a little bit,” said Tum. “We want to go to nationals and I know we will this time. We have a strong team.”

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Jay LunaJay Luna
Moses TumMoses TumDistance
Moses TumMoses Tum
Brian ZakavecBrian ZakavecDistance
Brian ZakavecBrian ZakavecDistance
Levi BrathallLevi Brathall
Levi BrathallLevi Brathall
Levi BrathallLevi BrathallDistance
Levi BrathallLevi BrathallDistance
Aaron Rubalcaba-LopezAaron Rubalcaba-LopezDistance
Aaron Rubalcaba-LopezAaron Rubalcaba-LopezDistance
Aaron Rubalcaba-LopezAaron Rubalcaba-LopezDistance
Aaron Rubalcaba-LopezAaron Rubalcaba-Lopez
Aaron Rubalcaba-LopezAaron Rubalcaba-Lopez
Aaron Rubalcaba-LopezAaron Rubalcaba-Lopez
Jason BraunJason BraunDistance
Jason BraunJason BraunDistance
Jason BraunJason Braun
Jason BraunJason Braun
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