Grizzlies run into a little bit of everything

Adams crowns team and woman; FLC gets the unexpected in Mo.

It was status quo for the Adams State cross country program at the NCAA Division II National Championships on Saturday in Joplin, Mo.

It ran a little differently for Fort Lewis College.

Adams State won its DII record ninth men’s championship, and the Grizzlies’ powerhouse posted the meet’s largest margin of victory since nationals last was in Joplin in 1999.

FLC had a change in leadership: Christian Gering, a sophomore, was the Skyhawks’ top finisher in 84th place out of the 245-runner field. He finished in 31 minutes, 9.2 seconds.

Another underclassman, freshman Garrett Sapakoff finished 122nd and second for the Skyhawks in 31:43.4.

FLC’s typical No. 1, senior Kiprono Mutai, finished 152nd in 32:05, while FLC junior Jimmy Mohrbacher finished eight spots and 2.9 seconds behind his teammate.

Micah Chelimo of Alaska-Anchorage is the national champion. The senior raced the 10,000 meters in 28:56.6, easily outdistancing the nearest Adams State runner.

That nearest Adams State runner, however, turned out to be a pack of three Grizzlies, a trio of underclassmen: redshirt freshman Kevin Batt (29:12.1), sophomore Tabor Stevens (29:12.2) and sophomore Matthew Daniels (29:16.2).

Adams State’s 4 and 5 runners then finished 11th and 14th to point a 34 – 68 points better than fellow Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference competitor and national runner-up Colorado School of Mines.

Western State finished sixth, the RMAC school’s worst placing in 21 trips to nationals. Also from the RMAC, UC-Colorado Springs finished 11th, and FLC finished 23rd out of 32 schools.

Joey Brenner, a sophomore, finished 175th for FLC in 32:23.1; Derek Laue, a junior and Bayfield High School alumnus, finished 211th in 33:05; and Alex Kilman, a junior, finished 236th in 34:16.6.

It was the second time in FLC program history the Skyhawks have raced nationals; Adams State, meanwhile, won its 21st title (12 in NAIA).

The Adams State women’s program crowned an individual champion: Alicia Nelson, a senior, won the 6,000-meter meet in 20:03.3, nine seconds faster than runner-up Susan Tanui of Alaska-Anchorage.

Grand Valley State won the team title with 101 points, three better than runner-up Augustana and eight better than third-place Adams State. Western State finished fourth, Colorado Mines eighth and UCCS 10th.

heraldsports@ durangoherald.com

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