The Fort Lewis College men’s and women’s cross-country teams finished in the middle of the pack at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships held at the Stenger Soccer Complex in Arvada on Saturday morning, as the men took eighth as a team and the women finished in ninth.
The Adams State Grizzlies took home both the men’s and women’s title, as the men finished with 34 points and the women did even better, finishing with 27. Both Adams State teams are ranked No. 1 in the nation according to the latest coaches’ poll. The other top finishing teams for the men included second-place Western State Colorado University with 71 points, Colorado State University-Pueblo, which took third with 109 points, and Colorado School of Mines and Technology with 110 points in fourth place. The Skyhawks were narrowly edged out by Metropolitan State University-Denver as FLC had 185 points while the Roadrunners finished with 183. Sixth-placed Black Hills State was not too far ahead with 180 points.
Skyhawks’ head coach Josh Coon thought Saturday’s race was a good proving ground for the NCAA Regional meet in two weeks.
“It was a mixed bag. Obviously we would have liked to place a little higher, but our issues are fixable, especially on the men’s side before regionals,” Coon said. “I’d rather learn that lesson today than in two weeks when we’ve got a shot to qualify for nationals. A shoutout to Hosova, who ran a brilliant race. He ran smart and wasn’t afraid to mix it up.
“Moving forward, we’ve got to run together, and we ran great in Minnesota because we packed up. We were splintered up today and were just not as strong, but again, we can fix that in the next few weeks.”
FLC’s highest finisher was senior Hosava Kretzman, who finished the eight-kilometer race with a time of 24 minutes, 56.8 seconds and placed sixth overall. He led the Skyhawks by nearly a minute and a half and made the First-Team All-RMAC as a result. Meanwhile, fellow senior Bismarck Kipkilach took 36th overall (26:18.6) which was second for the Skyhawks. Senior Preston Charlie was third for the Skyhawks in 47th (26:42.0) while sophomore Steven Nez was 50th (26:47.3).
Adams State had four of its top five runners finish in the top-10 overall as senior Sydney Gidabuday won the race with a time of 24:37.1 and just edged out second-place finisher Marcelo Laguera of CSU-Pueblo (24:38.0).
On the women’s side, Fort Lewis finished ninth overall with 245 points while Dixie State finished eighth with 238. In the six-kilometer race, Becca Bramley led Fort Lewis with a time of 22:42.9 and took 20th overall. With the top-20 finish Bramley made the Second-Team All-RMAC. Freshman Rhylyn Jones was second for FLC with a time of 23:31.6, while fellow freshman Peyton Slack took 66th (24:36.2).
“On the women’s side, we ran six freshmen and did exactly what we wanted them to do,” Coon said. “I thought Becca had a ‘B’ or ‘C’ day and still got all-conference, and so I think she’ll be really strong heading into Regionals, which is exactly what we want. The freshmen did great today and I think they can perform well at Regionals as well.”
Adams State won the team title by nine points over Western State, which finished with 36, while Colorado Mines took third with 99 points.
Alicja Koniezek of Western State won the women’s race with a time of 21:27.9 and beat the second-place finisher Elish Flanagan of Adams State by almost 10 seconds (21:37.0). Nine of the top-10 runners were either represented by Adams State or Western State, as University of Colorado-Colorado Springs’s junior Kayla Wooten took 10th with a time of 22:03.1.
The Skyhawks will compete at the South Central NCAA Regional meet hosted by Metropolitan State University-Denver, Saturday, Nov. 17 at Washington Park in Denver.