Men's cross country preview

By Doug Fitzgerald published August 30, 2006

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs cross country coach Graeme Badger doesnâ€TMt like the term ‘rebuilding.â€TM

Thatâ€TMs why he wonâ€TMt use that word to describe the 2006 Mountain Lions menâ€TMs cross country team. Also, he really doesnâ€TMt think the term applies.

“Theyâ€TMre good enough that I donâ€TMt see this as a rebuilding situation at all,” said Badger about his team. “Our goal is to qualify for nationals.”

That said, Badger is well aware of the challenge before he and assistant coach Sandra Badger. To reach nationals, UCCS must finish among the top five teams in the North Central Region. Since Adams State, Western State and Colorado School of Mines are virtual locks, the Mountain Lions will grapple with the likes of Minnesota-Mankato, Minnesota-Duluth and South Dakota for the remaining two spots.

Thatâ€TMs a tall order indeed. Especially since going into Fridayâ€TMs Wyoming Invitational UCCS has only two runners that could be considered sure things. Hill specialist Aaron Rubalcaba-Lopez, who took eighth at Laramie a year ago and went on to finish 17th in the regional meet, has the talent and experience to break into the regionâ€TMs top ten this season. Junior Gabe Small has improved steadily and appears poised to take his place among the regionâ€TMs elite.

A third runner, Englishman David Harmer, should make it a trio as the season progresses.

“David Harmer is just coming back to altitude so thereâ€TMs going to be an adjustment period,” said Badger.

That leaves two spots open to competition and 15 runners to compete for them. For the Mountain Lions to achieve their goals, some younger runners are going to have to step up.

“We have a very strong freshman class,” said Badger, who then offered a qualification. “With freshmen, itâ€TMs a good thing yet itâ€TMs a bad thing. They donâ€TMt have a lot of experience. Some of them are coming from low-volume programs so itâ€TMs going to take them a while to adjust to the training.

“The good thing is they bring a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. Thereâ€TMs a lot of camaraderie with our freshmen. I think they feel like they could be pretty good. Some of them will be contributing members to the varsity.”

That makes the real question “how long?”

Badger, who has been training collegiate freshmen for 11 years now, has a timetable in mind.

“I see this as a real challenge for us,” said Badger, “to train them right, bring them along and to be real competitive at the end.”

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

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
Gabe SmallGabe Small
Gabe SmallGabe Small
Gabe SmallGabe Small
Gabe SmallGabe Small
Gabe SmallGabe Small
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