UCCS takes 11th at nationals

By Doug Fitzgerald published November 23, 2004

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.

How appropriate. The 2004 Mountain Lions menâ€TMs cross country season was filled with unprecedented accomplishments.

CU-Colorado Springs went into the meet ranked eighth, the highest national ranking ever achieved by a Mountain Lions cross country team. The team also had its best-ever finish at regionals (third), leading to its first berth at nationals.

With all of that already accomplished, Tum eclipsing Trent Brineyâ€TMs No. 11 finish in 1999 seemed almost preordained.

“Moses was just outstanding,” said CU-Colorado Springs coach Graeme Badger. “He ran the best race of his life physically and tactically.”

Levi Brathall finished second for the Mountain Lions and 41st overall. Aaron Rubalcaba-Lopez took fourth on the team and 76th overall. Throughout the season, Tum, Brathall and Rubalcaba-Lopez were the Mountain Lionsâ€TM big three, usually running in a tight pack and finishing close to each other. Saturday, however, the conditions at the Evansville, Ind., course took their toll.

“The course was grass and clay and it had been raining so it was really slippery,” said Badger. “The clay was on the hills and there were long uphills and downhills. It was like running on ice.”

Brathall finished in 33 minutes, 34.7 seconds, 1:12 behind Tum and 1:54 behind race winner Nicodemus Naimadu of Abilene Christian. Rubalcaba-Lopez covered the course in 34:28.2. Rubalcaba-Lopez, a hill specialist, fell twice on the slick clay inclines.

“The times were slow because of the conditions,” said Badger.

A pleasant development for CU-Colorado Springs was the continued rise of Jason Braun, a junior who transferred from Texas-San Antonio this past summer. He was third among Mountain Lions runners and 67th overall.

“Jason had his best race of the year,” said Badger. “He came here from Texas and it takes a little while to adjust to the stress of competing at altitude. Once youâ€TMve made that adjustment, itâ€TMs usually an advantage to go back to sea level.”

Not always, though.

“The sea level teams go out (at the start) a little faster,” said Badger. “We go out a little slower because if you go out fast at altitude, itâ€TMll kill you.

“Because of that we gave away a little too much ground too early and had to catch up.”

Abilene Christian set a blistering pace, posting a mile split of 4:25. The altitude-trained teams were able to close the gap, though, relegating Abilene Christian to third place.

As a team, the Mountain Lions finished 11th. Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference rivals Western State and Adams State took first and second, respectively. Badger believes that his teamâ€TMs constant exposure to the nationâ€TMs best squads helps in its development, but also thinks it is overlooked by others.

“We compete against the best every time we go out,” said Badger. “We competed against Colorado (at Boulder) and they won the Division I menâ€TMs and womenâ€TMs national titles. We compete against Western State and Adams State all the time.”

And every year, the Mountain Lions close the gap.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Moses TumMoses TumDistance
Moses TumMoses Tum
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
Additional News Stories
November 15, 2004Cross country teams brace for nationalsFor the first time in university of Colorado at Colorado Springs history, both the men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete at the NCAA Division II National Cross Country Championship.
November 6, 2004Men complete historic doubleThe University of Colorado at Colorado Springs men’s cross country team took third place at the Division II North Central Regional at Vermillion, S.D. Saturday, earning a berth at nationals.
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