'Depth Charge' Sinks Highlands, Sends UCCS to Nationals

By Doug Fitzgerald published November 8, 2008

KEARNEY, Neb. â€" Mark Mischâ€TMs ‘depth chargeâ€TM sent the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs menâ€TMs cross country team to nationals for only the second time in school history.

The Mountain Lionsâ€TM coach knew coming into Saturdayâ€TMs NCAA Division II Central Regional Championship that, in order to be one of the six teams to qualify for nationals, his team would have to leapfrog past New Mexico Highlands, which beat UCCS at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships.

On paper, that would look to be a difficult task. Highlands has two runners from Burundi, Laurent Ngirakamaro and Niciase Kazingo, that rank among the best in the nation. So to beat the Cowboys, UCCS would need to do it with depth.

“We knew we were good enough if everyone fired,” said Misch. “If we could put seven guys ahead of Highlandsâ€TM (fourth-best finisher), we figured we could overcome their top runners.”

So thatâ€TMs exactly what they did. UCCS' Dan Pinter took 24th overall, followed by Gabe Small (30th), Carlos Ruibal (43rd), Casey Weaver (51st), Alex Tiernan (57th), Joel Kienitz (68th) and Mason Frank (72nd).

Highlandsâ€TM No. 3 finisher was John Ronoh at 46th, followed by Gabriel Vidal (73rd) and Joshua Garcia (72nd).

The math, then, is such: since Pinter, Small and Ruibal all finished ahead of all three of the aforementioned Cowboys, UCCS gained nine points in the exchange. Additionally, Weaver, Tiernan, Keinitz and Frank each finished ahead of two Highlands scoring runners, the Mountain Lions pushed the Cowboys back another eight points.

UCCS beat Highlands by just 16 points.

“This was a tremendous day for our men,” said Misch. “This team has no superstars, just a bunch of blue-collar guys. That's why we always say the sum of the whole is greater then then parts

“From a tactical standpoint, they ran a perfect race. They earned it.”

Ironically, the last UCCS menâ€TMs cross country team to qualify for nationals looked a lot like this yearâ€TMs Highlands squad. The 2004 Mountain Lions, who finished 11th nationally, relied heavily on stars Moses Tum and Levi Brathall.

Also going to nationals from the Central Region will be Adams State, Western State, Minnesota State, Colorado School of Mines and Metro State. Adams Stateâ€TMs Aaron Braun and Brian Medigovich were the top two individuals.

This seasonâ€TMs UCCS team is a decidedly no-frills group. Pinterâ€TMs 24th the lowest best finish by an individual for any of the top seven teams. Conversely, Frank, UCCSâ€TM lowest finisher, would have been a scoring runner (top five) on 13 teams.

“People didnâ€TMt pay much attention to them all season,” said Misch. “We werenâ€TMt even ranked in the top 10 (regionally) coming into this race.”

“Our results were fairly solid during the season, but we were never able to run our top seven guys in the same race all season. Weâ€TMve believed all year that we were good enough.

“(The Mountain Lions) trained hard and did everything they needed to do. They believed.”

And now, it would seem, the rest of the region does as well.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Gabe SmallGabe Small
Gabe SmallGabe Small
Gabe SmallGabe Small
Gabe SmallGabe Small
Gabe SmallGabe Small
Carlos RuibalCarlos RuibalDistance
Carlos RuibalCarlos RuibalDistance
Carlos RuibalCarlos RuibalDistance
Carlos RuibalCarlos RuibalDistance
Carlos RuibalCarlos RuibalDistance
Carlos RuibalCarlos Ruibal
Carlos RuibalCarlos Ruibal
Carlos RuibalCarlos Ruibal
Carlos RuibalCarlos Ruibal
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Alex TiernanAlex Tiernan
Joel KienitzJoel KienitzDistance
Joel KienitzJoel KienitzDistance
Joel KienitzJoel KienitzDistance
Joel KienitzJoel KienitzDistance
Joel KienitzJoel Kienitz
Joel KienitzJoel Kienitz
Joel KienitzJoel Kienitz
Joel KienitzJoel Kienitz
Mason FrankMason Frank
Mason FrankMason Frank
Mason FrankMason Frank
Casey WeaverCasey WeaverDistance
Casey WeaverCasey WeaverDistance
Casey WeaverCasey WeaverDistance
Casey WeaverCasey WeaverDistance
Casey WeaverCasey Weaver
Casey WeaverCasey Weaver
Casey WeaverCasey Weaver
Casey WeaverCasey Weaver
Additional News Stories
December 20, 2008Pinter, Five Others Named to RMAC All-Academic TeamsDan Pinter of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was named Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference men's cross country first team all-academic, the conference announced Friday.
November 22, 2008UCCS Men Take 17th at NationalsSLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ rise to prominence in men’s cross country continued Saturday as the Mountain Lions took 17th at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships at Cooper’s Lake Campground.
September 20, 2008UCCS Women Take Fifth, Men Ninth at University of Nebraska MeetLINCOLN, Neb. – In the cross country community, it is widely recognized that the NCAA Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference is the equal of most, if not all, Division I conferences. Knowing that, it’s little wonder that University of Colorado at Colorado Spring coach Mark Misch is preparing his team for the RMAC championships by competing in consecutive Division I meets.
September 3, 2008Preview: Mountain Lions enter 2008 a deeper, more talented teamIt is early morning at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus and the first students, staff, and faculty are just filing in to meet the day when down one of the many trails that emanate from the school comes a troop of runners who are clearly “in the zone.” One of the staff turns to an other and says, “those runners, they seem to be like rabbits lately – not only are they fast but there are more and more of them every year.” This hypothetical staff member would not be far off the truth because under the careful guidance of coach Mark Misch, the UCCS cross country team has just about doubled over the past two seasons.
Visit our Facebook pageVisit the UCCS Mount Lion's Twitter pageVisit the UCCS Mountain Lions Youtube pageVisit UCCS Rss feeds