GOLDEN – Back together in the national championships for the first time since 2005, the Colorado School of Mines men's and women's cross country teams head to Joplin, Missouri this weekend for the 2012 edition of the NCAA Division II National Championships, hosted by Missouri Southern State on Saturday, Nov. 17.
The men's 10K championship race begins at 10:30 a.m. (CST) at the Missouri Southern Cross Country Course, followed by the women's 6K championship at 11:30 a.m.
Ranked third in the final regular season USTFCCCA NCAA Division II Poll, the men earned their eighth straight national championship trip with a third-place effort at the regional championship at Willis Case Golf Course in Denver on Nov. 3, while the 13th-ranked women ended a seven-year drought with a fourth-place showing out of 24 schools in the regional field.
The men spent the entirety of the regular season ranked inside the nation's top-4, including a four-week stint at the second slot. The Orediggers have not finished lower than third in any meet this season, winning the Woody Greeno/Nebraska Invitational on Sept. 15 and taking runner-up honors at both the Oklahoma State Cowboy Jamboree and RMAC Championships.
The women were inside the top-25 for all seven regular season ballots, highlighted by the season-best ranking of No. 13 in the final poll. Collectively, the Mines women have captured three fourth-place team finishes and took sixth at the Cowboy Jamboree behind a trio of Division I squads.
Sophomore and RMAC runner-up Phil Schneider paced the Orediggers at the regional meet, nipping classmate Derek Alcorn at the line with a time of 32:37 for eighth overall out of 152 runners.
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.
Sophomore Chloe Gustafson, an individual qualifier to last year's national championships, took 16th in the 157-runner field with a time of 22:49 over the 6K distance to lead the Mines women.
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 stopped the clock in 23:29 for 29th.
Earning South Central All-Region Team recognition for the men were Schneider, Alcorn, Socha, Epperson and Bodnar, while Gustafson received the honor on the women's side.