COLORADO SPRINGS – In what is oft-regarded as the premier cross country conference championship in the country, the Colorado School of Mines harriers rose to the occasion Saturday for the 2012 edition of the RMAC Championships at Monument Valley Park in Colorado Springs, as the men captured second and the women took home fourth.
Led by sophomore Phil Schneider and senior Sean Gildea, the No. 2 Oredigger men finished second to only Adams State, the current No. 1 in Division II and RMAC champion seven of the last nine years, in the final standings (30-to-44), matching their highest ever finish at the meet in program history (1972, 1975).
Schneider turned in a time of 25:10.50 over the 8K distance to take runner-up honors in the the 105-runner field, less than four seconds back of overall champion Tabor Stevens of Adams State (25:06.90), while Gildea crossed the line in third with a time of 25:14.50.
Not far behind was the foursome of sophomore Derek Alcorn, seniors Adam Bodnar and Russell Drummond, and junior Andrew Epperson, who collectively finished 12th through 15th, respectively. Alcorn led the quartet home in 25:57.60, followed by Bodnar in 26:01.80, Drummond in 26:02.60 and Epperson just two tenths back in 26:02.80.
Junior Frank Socha and senior Neal Anderson took 22nd and 23rd with times of 26:17.70 and 26:21.60, while red-shirt freshman Marty Andrie rounded out the top-25 in 26:25.00.
For the fourth straight meet this season, the Mines women were led by senior Hannah Schuster, who covered the 6K course in a time of 22:59.80, taking 10th out of 108 runners for her first career top-10 result.
Red-shirt junior Hannah Cooling, senior Marie Patton and sophomore Kirsten Farquhar all recorded top-25 finishes as Cooling ran a 23:42.60 for 18th; Patton took 22nd in 23:55.10 and Farquhar was 24th, stopping the clock at 24:01.70.
Freshman Kaylie Haynes turned in a time of 24:28.30 for 30th, while sophomore Chloe Gustafson battled to 39th in 24:49.40 and freshman Ann Joyce Miller finished close behind in 40th with a 24:51.30.
With a total of 103 points, the women matched their finish from a year ago, trailing only No. 2 Adams State (21), No. 4 Western State (46) and No. 15 UC-Colorado Springs (94). The Grizzlies placed runners in four of the top five slots to seize their ninth RMAC title over the past 11 years and end Western State's two-year reign.
Behind their high finishes, Schneider and Gildea earned All-RMAC First Team recognition; Alcorn, Bodnar and Drummond garnered Second Team honors; and Epperson was named to the Third Team, while Schuster and Cooling collected Second and Third Team accolades for the women.
The Orediggers are idle the next two weeks and return to action on Saturday, Nov. 3 for the NCAA South Central Regional, hosted by Regis at the Willis Case Golf Course in Denver.