Grizzlies flex their running muscle

Adams State sweeps individual and team titles at ‘mini-nationals’

Not since 1995 has a team other than Adams State or Western State claimed the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference cross country championship.

After Saturday, that streak is 17 years and running.

Adams State – ranked first nationally in the NCAA Division II men’s top 35 and second in the women’s poll – swept the RMAC Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Monument Valley Park.

Nationwide, the RMAC championships is becoming known as “mini-nationals.” Adams State beat five teams ranked in the men’s top 35 and four ranked in the women’s top 35.

The Adams State men’s cross country program won its 34th RMAC championship, 22 more than Western State’s next best. And history has been kind to the best team in arguably the best cross country conference in the nation; 16 of the last 20 national championships have come from the RMAC, including the last four.

Tabor Stevens and Alicia Nelson paced the Grizzlies with individual conference championships and subsequently were named the men’s and women’s RMAC Runners of the Year.

Kevin Batt, who finished fourth for Adams State, was named the RMAC Freshman of the Year.

Damon Martin, the architect of the national powerhouse and a 30-time national coach of the year, is the men’s and women’s RMAC Coach of the Year.

No. 1 Adams State won its men’s championship with 30 points (1-4-6-8-11).

No. 2 Adams State won its women’s championship with 21 points (1-2-4-5-9).

Fort Lewis College finished seventh (190) in the men’s race and fifth (194) in the women’s race.

“For us, it was kind of a measure to see where we matched up with teams that were near us for regionals,” FLC cross country head coach Mark Dutro said. “We went into the meet to beat who we could and get as close as we could to everyone else.”

No. 2 Colorado School of Mines finished second behind the Adams State men with 44 points, then was followed by No. 4 Western State (67), No. 9 UC-Colorado Springs (102) and No. 34 N.M. Highlands (180).

No. 4 Western State finished second behind the Adams State women with 46 points, then was followed by No. 15 UC-Colorado Springs (94) and No. 14 Colorado Mines (103).

Kiprono Mutai paced the FLC men’s team in 32nd place. He ran the 8 kilometers in 26 minutes, 49.6 seconds.

Stevens won the 8K in 25:06.90, four seconds faster than Phil Schneider of Colorado Mines.

For the FLC men’s cross country team, Christian Gering finished 36th (27:06.70), Garrett Sapakoff finished 41st (27:16), Jimmy Mohrbacher finished 52nd (27:56.30), Joey Brenner finished 53rd (28:02.50), Derek Laue finished 58th (28:19.90), Alex Kilman finished 60th (28:23.10), Josh Benson finished 73rd (29:04.40), and Tate Lagasca finished 82nd in the 105-runner field in 29:27.

“Part of it is we just wanted to show that we’re legit, that some of the rankings we’ve had aren’t a fluke,” Dutro said.

“That was kind of our purpose, to maybe scare somebody.”

The FLC men are ranked eighth regionally, while the women are unranked.

For now.

Alexis Work paced the FLC women’s team in 25th place. She ran the 6K in 24:08.50.

Nelson won in 21:57.10. Her teammate, Kelly Lamb, finished runner-up in 22:13.70.

For the FLC women’s cross country team, Maddie Kruger finished 33rd (24:34.20), Katarina Medici finished 41st (24:52.90), Tara Dillon finished 46th (25:05.90), Helen Smith finished 63rd (25:59.20), Alyssa Carman finished 71st (26:18.90), and Katherine Judge finished 84th in the 107-runner field in 26:55.90.

“The women finished a lot higher than I think people considered us,” Dutro said.

“Bottom line: That’s that we wanted to do.”

heraldsports@durangoherald.com

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