Cross country teams brace for nationals
For the first time in university of Colorado at Colorado Springs history, both the menâ€TMs and womenâ€TMs cross country teams will compete at the NCAA Division II National Cross Country Championship.
The championship, which will be held on Saturday (Nov. 20) at Evansville, Ind., will feature the 24 best menâ€TMs womenâ€TMs teams from around the nation.
"It's not very easy to do or more people would do it," said CU-Colorado Springs coach Graeme Badger about qualifying two teams for nationals. "There are over 250 Division II cross country teams and every one of them wants to be where we'll be this weekend.
"It's an exciting accomplishment for the athletic department and the school."
Going into nationals, the Mountain Lions men's team is ranked eighth nationally and the women's team is ranked 12th. Competing for the men's team will be: Moses Tum, Levi Brathall, Aaron Rubalcaba-Lopez, Jason Braun, Brad Winn, Phil Harrison and Jay Luna. The women's team will be: Tina Gray, Sarah Shepard, Shannon Payne, Megan Lund, Chelsey Cerrillo, Kari Samuelson, Jessica Urban.
â€œItâ€TMs a team sport and you have to have five people score if youâ€TMre going to finish among the leaders,â€ said Badger. â€œThatâ€TMs what we did well this season.
â€œI want to see a team effort. If that happens, weâ€TMll get good results.â€
CU-Colorado Springsâ€TM best team finish at nationals was in 2000, when the womenâ€TMs team took 10th. They followed that with an 11th-place finish in 2002.
The menâ€TMs team has never competed at nationals but has had two individuals earn All-American status (Trent Briney in 1999 and Greg Augspurger in 2001). The womenâ€TMs program also boasts two All-Americans (Kira Claussen in 1999 and Sarah Vigil in 2000).
The top 25 United States citizens to finish earn All-American status. The U.S. citizen requirement exists because of the disproportionately high number of foreign athletes who compete in cross country.
Adams State and Western State, which are both members of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference along with CU-Colorado Springs, are heavy favorites in both the menâ€TMs and womenâ€TMs races. Of the past 12 Division II menâ€TMs championships, Adams State and Western State have each won five times. The dominance is even more pronounced on the womenâ€TMs side, where Adams State had won nine of the past 12 titles and Western State has won the other three.
â€œYear in and year out those schools are dominant,â€ said Badger. â€œThey have tremendous athletes and great coaches, but they know weâ€TMre starting to close the gap.â€
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
|Additional News Stories|
|November 23, 2004||UCCS takes 11th at nationals||When Moses Tum finished eighth at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships Saturday, it marked the highest finish ever by a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs runner at a national meet.|
|November 6, 2004||Men complete historic double||The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs menâ€™s cross country team took third place at the Division II North Central Regional at Vermillion, S.D. Saturday, earning a berth at nationals.|
|October 23, 2004||Men take third at RMAC Championships||After the menâ€™s 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.|
|October 2, 2004||Lions take second at Boulder Shootout||The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs menâ€™s cross country team earned a second-place finish in the Non-Division I bracket at the Rocky Mountain Shootout Saturday in Boulder, Colo.|