UCCS Hosts Nation's Top Cross Country Race Saturday Morning
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Coloradans who don't want to make the trip to Joplin, Mo., for the 2012 NCAA Division II National Championships can be economical instead and make the short trip to Monument Valley Park here in Colorado Springs, Colo., for a competition level that will be on par with that of the best in the nation.
After all, 16 of the last 20 men's national champions have come out of the cross country powerhouse that is the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The women's side is no different with the RMAC winning 18 of the last 20 women's national championships. Since 1992, RMAC cross country has been the standard.
"The conference championships are a great opportunity to show the strength of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, and it is definitely one of the strongest conferences in the nation," said UCCS senior runner Ted Schultz. "It is extremely exciting to have the race held at our home course where fans, friends, and family can show their support and enjoy it with us."
This won't be the first time the RMAC championships have featured a likely national champion but it will be the first time that the University of Colorado Colorado Springs will host the event. With 14 teams in the RMAC alternating the hosting privileges, it has been a long time coming for UCCS to host the event; and the timing could not be better.
In what has historically been a two-team conference, dominated by Adams State University and Western State Colorado University, the Mountain Lion's have made quite a bit of noise in 2012. Currently ranked ninth in the nation on the men's side and No. 15 on the women's side - best in school history - UCCS could challenge the field for a pair of conference championships.
It won't be an easy road however with Adams State, Colorado School of Mines and Western State being nationally ranked first, second and fourth, respectively, on the men's side. Adams State, Western State and Colorado Mines are also ranked second, fourth and No. 14 on the women's side.
"It's fun to be part of the conversation in the toughest conference, it'd be like being nationally ranked in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) in basketball. It's really attributed to the coaches and the kids," said UCCS Athletic Director Stephen Kirkham.
UCCS runner Emilio Trujillo won the 2012 Rust Buster earlier this season, running on the same course at Monument Valley Park. The course familiarity for Trujillo, Schultz, and the rest of the Mountain Lion's will be an advantage in a race where every small advantage can make a difference.
The Colorado Springs cross country world as a whole will experience an influx of running talent this weekend with some of the best runners in the state and surrounding areas converging on Monument Valley Park for the Colorado USA Track and Field Cross Country Championships.
"One thing that's really unique about this event this season is that we've also partnered with Colorado USATF and we're hosting the Colorado USATF Cross Country Championships in conjunction with our race so there will be a lot of RMAC alums competing in that race and that's just before ours so it will quite a day for the sport and hopefully people come out and have a great time," said UCCS Men's Cross Country coach Mark Misch on the RMAC's weekly radio show.
"It's definitely something that we've looked forward to for the last year and a half to two years, just planning ahead. It's a great all-around event, not just the RMAC Championships itself, but for the fans, alumni, friends and family."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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