UCCS Men Qualify to Compete at National Cross Country Championship

By Matt Rigby published November 5, 2011

DENVER - The University of Colorado Colorado Springs men's cross-country team qualified for the NCAA Division II National Championship in Spokane, Wash. on Nov. 19th.

The Mountain Lions men placed fifth with a team score of 189 points at NCAA Division II Central Regional Cross Country Championships. The women's team finished their season on a high note with an 11th place team finish with a score of 325 points. Both teams executed nearly perfect race plans.

UCCS Athletic Director Stephen Kirkham was present at Washington Park in Denver for the regional races and was quick to give all the praise the runners and coaches, especially coach Mark Misch.

"The biggest thing is that we have been able to retain our coaches," said Kirkham. "We have quality coaches and the institution is and will continue to be committed to keeping quality coaches. Having a revolving door of coaches in counter to establishing a winning culture."

There are only two seniors in the top seven of the men's team. There is also great depth behind the current top seven runners. So, it appears that the goal of creating a winning culture is in full bloom.

Six men's team advanced to the D-II National Championship. The team winner of the men's race was Adams State with a score of 28 points. The other team qualifiers were; 2) Western State-61, 3) Colorado School of Mines-72, 4) Augustana-116, 5) UCCS-189 and 6) Metro State-189. UCCS won the tiebreaker over Metro State because of a better finish by the number six runner.

The UCCS team qualification is especially sweet for the captain Michael Johnson. In 2008, as a freshman, Johnson was a top seven UCCS runner all season. However, he got sick towards the end of the season and gave his spot on the regional roster to an upper classman. He then watched that team advance to the national championship for the first time in program history. In 2011, Johnson finally gets his opportunity to run at cross country nationals.

"I am so happy to be a part of this team," said Johnson. "Nobody ever ranked us at the top of anything and we have proved them all wrong. This is a really great day."

For the individual results, Ryan Derrick was the first UCCS man across the finish line in men's 10,000-meter race at 32nd place in a time of 34:31. Close behind was Mike English at 35th place in a time of 34:46 and Oliver Williams at 36th place in a time of 34:53. Johnson led the second pack of UCCS runners coming in at 39th place in a time of 35:11. Casey Weaver completed the UCCS team score with a 47th place finish in a time of 35:26. The other two UCCS men in the race were Ted Schultz at 51st place in a time of 35:39 and Sam Feldotto in 61st place and a time of 35:59.

The UCCS men's team had the second-best team spread with only 55 seconds of time in between their first and fifth place runners. Also, there was only 1:28 in between the first through seventh runners. It is the tight pack running that made the difference for UCCS and got then though to the national championship.

For the UCCS women, it was a season full of challenges that made them stronger and better. They began the 2011 season with only two runners who had run in a collegiate cross country race. Also, two of the runners on the roster had never run in a cross country race at any time, including high school. An 11th place team finish at the regional a solid result for the women as all the preseason rankings had the UCCS women way down at the bottom of the field.

All of the UCCS women return for next year, so look for great results from the women's cross-country team in the years soon to come. The women also had great pack running as they, just like the men, has the second spread in between their top five runners of 1:16.

Samantha Bauer was the first UCCS women runner to complete the 6,000 meter course in 49th place with a time of 25:12.

"I had an amazing season," said Bauer. "I ran much better than I expected coming into my first year of college."

Close behind Bauer was Veronica Sandoval in 58th place in a time of 25:33 and Ashley Benfield at 59th place in a time 25:34. Benfield is one of the two UCCS women who had never run in a cross country race of any kind before the fall of 2011.

 "The longest race I had ever run before was 400 meters," said Benfield. "I did my best and when you work hard good things happen."

The other four UCCS women running at the regional were: Amber McAfee in 77th place and a time of 26:16, Alexa Urban in 82nd place and a time of 26:27, Sarah Treese in 83rd and a time of 26:29 and Sara Kettelkamp in 104th place and a time of 27:16.

So, see you again in two weeks as for first time in three years UCCS will be represented at the D-II Cross-Country National Championship on Nov. 18th at the Plants Ferry Soccer Complex in Spokane, Wash.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

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