Season Preview: UCCS Men Eye Regional Success

By Matt Rigby published August 25, 2011

The Mountain Lion men will go airborne for their Sept. 24 meet at Spokane, Wash., for the national preview meet. The UCCS cross-country began in 1996 and the meet in Spokane, Wash. will be the longest regular season road trip and first regular season airplane trip for a full UCCS cross-country team.

It is not running in a race Spokane that is the big thing. It is the idea of what running in that particular race in Spokane means. It is sign of the potential that this team and program are turning into. For the head coach to take the team to a national meet is a big representation of what this team and program is just around the corner from becoming.

So, the Sept. 24 race is where all the excitement for the men's team is centered. On the 24th they will be in Spokane for the Runners Soul Invitational, which will be run on exactly the same course as the 2011 NCAA Division II National Championship. Additionally, the race will have a healthy dose of NCAA Division I teams and runners, including a couple teams from the mighty Pac-12 Conference.

As usual, UCCS will have to go through the strongest conference and region in the country for D-II. The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, following the 2010 National Championship, has had four men's team place in the top 10 for 13 years in a row, including 15 of the last 19 team national champions. It is predicted to be the same this season.

So, six men's team will advance from the regional qualifier meet on Nov. 5 and this year the Mountain Lions even have a pseudo-home field advantage with the all-important regional meet being run at Washington Park in Denver.

"The guys have been training at Washington Park all summer," said UCCS coach Mark Misch. "They have paid there dues. They know what their positions were at the end of last season and they know who the key teams to beat are in order to advance past regional."

The rest of the schedule has a high degree of quality as well, with the other five races within an hour drive of the UCCS campus. There will be two races in Colorado Springs at Monument Valley Park and the last three in Denver, two of which will be run at the very spectator-friendly course in Washington Park.

The season begins with the UCCS-hosted Rust Buster on Sept. 10 at Monument Valley Park. The second race will be the Colorado College Invitational, also at Monument Valley Park on Sept. 17.

This year the Rust Buster will be the second-largest collegiate race in Colorado, behind only the Rocky Mountain Shootout in Boulder. The Rust Buster will be two top-quality races with the likes of Colorado State, Air Force Academy, Northern Colorado, Metro State, Colorado School of Mines and Queens College from Charlotte, N.C. in the field. Who knows? In Colorado Springs maybe an Olympian or two might show up for the race, after all, the U.S. Olympic Training Center is just down the road.

The entire October race schedule will take place in Denver. UCCS will participate in the Metro State Invitational on Oct. 8 at Washington Park. The Conference Championship will take place at Willis Case Golf Course on Oct. 22. The Mountain Lions will then return Washington Park for the Regional Qualifier on Nov. 5. The regional will determine who moves on to run at the NCAA D-II National Championship in Spokane on Nov. 19.

Men's Team

The Mountain Lion men are picked in the preseason polls for ninth place in the region and seventh place in the RMAC.

UCCS will be led by junior Mike English, who placed 29th at the regional last year in Wayne, Neb. with a time of 32:22.57. He grew up and went to high school in Thornton, Colo. English, as with most of the men's team, will running at home in Denver for the regional this season.

"English has bought in. He has had a big summer." Said Misch "He wants to be an All-American and he is starting to act like what it takes to become and All-American on and off the field of play."

Junior Sam Feldotto, placed 45th at last year's regional with a time of 33:08.77. He should make some big improvement in time and place in 2011. So should Ryan Derrick, who started the 2010 season as a redshirt but his race times were too good to keep the redshirt on. Derrick ran to a 57th-place finish in a time of 33:49.57 at the regional last year.

There are just two seniors on the men's team in Michael Johnson and Casey Weaver. Johnson placed 64th in a time of 33:56.87 at the 2010 regional. Weaver has had injury problems over the last two years and so has not raced very much. He was a member of the 2008 team that qualified for the National Championship, though, and having a fully-healthy Weaver would be a big benefit for the 2011 team.

Among the other members of the men's team to look out for is junior Ted Schultz, 87th and 35:01.22 at the 2010 regional. Junior Oliver Williams is another, and is looking to have a full healthy season this fall just like Weaver. Williams should be a strong runner if can stay injury free. Sophomores Matt Winfrey and Ian Penn should be able to make big improvement in their running time now that they have a full year collegiate experience through the spring track season.

Additionally, look out for the new freshmen led by Ryder Tam, who was a good runner at Boulder High School. He is in the honors engineering program and began his collegiate studies at CU-Boulder but the honors program in Boulder would not permit him to participate on an NCAA varsity team. CU-Boulder's loss is positive for UCCS.

Women's Team

The young Mountain Lion women's squad was picked to finish eighth in the RMAC preseason poll, and was not ranked in the regional poll.  

There are no seniors on the 2011 women's roster and only two returning runners from the 2010 regional roster. Sophomore Veronica Sandoval is the top returning UCCS woman. Sandoval placed 70th with a time of 24:16.10 last year at the regional. Junior Sara Kettelkamp finished in 101st with a time of 25:08.36 at the 2010 regional race.

Coming into the 2011 season the rest of the women's team has no collegiate cross-country race experience. Junior Ashley Benfield and Sophomore Alexa Urban will be crossing over from the track team to run the cross-country season. Urban placed third in 800 meter with a time of 2:17.35. Benfield, on the track, has been a second team All-RMAC performer in the 400-meter hurdles for the last two track seasons.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

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Sara KettelkampSara KettelkampSr.
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Ashley Benfield Ashley Benfield Hurdles/Sprints So
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Additional News Stories
December 13, 2011Four Mountain Lions Named Cross Country All-AcademicFour members of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs cross country teams were named to the 2011 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Men's Cross Country All-Academic teams. Michael Johnson was named first-team all-academic, while Casey Weaver, Mike English and Ian Penn were all named second-team all-academic.
November 19, 2011English Leads UCCS to 19th at NationalsJunior Mike English took 47th individually at the 2011 NCAA Division-II Cross Country National Championship in Spokane, Wash,. to lead UCCS to a 19th-place finish. He covered the 10,000-meter course in a time of 32 minutes, 17 seconds.
November 16, 2011UCCS Men Headed to Cross Country NationalsThe University of Colorado Colorado Springs men’s cross-country team will be on the national stage as the Mountain Lions compete at the 2011 NCAA Division-II Cross Country National Championship on Saturday in Spokane, Wash.
November 9, 2011UCCS Men's Cross Country Climbs to No. 15 in National PollThe University of Colorado Colorado Springs men’s cross-country team is ranked 15th on the USTFCCCA division II national rankings for week seven, which was announced on Wednesday.
November 5, 2011UCCS Men Qualify to Compete at National Cross Country ChampionshipThe University of Colorado Colorado Springs men’s cross-country team qualified for the NCAA Division II National Championship in Spokane, Wash. on Nov. 19th.
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