DENVER – The Colorado School of Mines men's country team is headed back to the NCAA Division II National Championships for an eighth straight year, while the women's squad returns for the first time since 2005 as the Orediggers captured third and fourth, respectively, at Saturday's NCAA Division II South Central Regional Cross Country Championships at Willis Case Golf Course in Denver.
Runner-up at the RMAC Championships two weeks ago, sophomore Phil Schneider once again paced the men in the 10K race, nipping classmate Derek Alcorn at the line by one one-hundredth of a second in 32:37 for eighth overall in the 152-runner field.
Junior Frank Socha finished 17th in 32:57, followed by classmate Andrew Epperson in 20th at 32:58 and senior Adam Bodnar in 21st in 33:00 to round out the scoring.
Red-shirt freshman Marty Andrie and senior Russell Drummond each posted top-30 finishes as Andrie took 27th in 33:26 and Drummond finished 30th, stopping the clock at 33:25.
Behind red-shirt freshman and individual champion Kevin Batt, Adams State cruised to the team championship with 26 total points, while RMAC squads occupied four of the next five automatic-qualifying slots. Reigning national champion Western State took second (58 points), followed by the Orediggers in third (75), UC-Colorado Springs in fourth (118) and Fort Lewis in sixth (178).
Sophomore Chloe Gustafson, an individual qualifier to last year's national championships, led the Mines women over the 6K distance with a time of 22:49, good for 16th out of 157 runners.
Leading a trio of Orediggers to the line, red-shirt junior Hannah Cooling turned in a season-best time of 23:24, edging senior Marie Patton by one second for 27th, while senior Hanna Schuster was just five seconds back in 29th (23:29).
Sophomore Kirsten Farquhar claimed 32nd in 23:33 to cap the scoring for Mines, and freshmen Ann Joyce Miller and Kaylie Haynes each tallied top-40 results, coming home in 33rd and 39th with times of 23:36 and 23:46.
This year's RMAC Champion Alicia Nelson was tops in the field once again, leading the Adams State women to a decisive win in the team competition with 28 points as RMAC squads seized the top four positions. Finishing second behind the Grizzlies was Western State (49 points) with UCCS taking third (108) and the Orediggers fourth (132).
Earning selection onto the South Central All-Region Team for the men were Schneider, Alcorn, Socha, Epperson and Bodnar, while Gustafson was awarded the honor for the women.
The 2012 NCAA Division II National Championships, hosted by Missouri Southern State, get underway on Saturday, Nov. 17 in Joplin, Missouri. The men's championship is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. (CST) at the Missouri Southern Cross Country Course, followed by the women's championship at 11:30 a.m.