JOPLIN, Mo. – With five runners finishing in the top-36, the storied Colorado School of Mines men's cross country team reached new heights Saturday, establishing a new program mark with a second place finish at the 2012 NCAA Division II National Championships on the campus of Missouri Southern State in Joplin.
Led by the senior Sean Gildea, the second three-time USTFCCCA All-American in school history, the Orediggers continued their remarkable run of high showings at the national championships, finishing in the top-five for the fourth straight year and in the top-10 for an eighth consecutive time.
Gildea improved upon last season's 14th-place effort and bettered his previous collegiate-best time at the 10K distance by over two minutes, running a 29:31.2 for ninth place overall and the second-best individual result in program lore. Joel Hamilton earned eighth-place at the 2005 national meet en route to his first of two All-American accolades.
Separated by only one second, sophomore classmates Phil Schneider and Derek Alcorn finished in 30:08.1 and 30:09.1 for 20th and 22nd, respectively, out of 245 runners. Schneider earned All-American recognition in his first appearance at the national meet, while Alcorn set a new personal-best time and improved upon his 28th-place performance in 2011 to repeat as All-American.
Juniors Andrew Epperson and Frank Socha earned their first All-American honors as Epperson took 29th in 30:10.4 and Socha claimed 36th in 30:20.2 with a strong kick down the final straightaway to complete the scoring. Both times and finishes were personal bests in three trips to the championships for the two.
Senior Adam Bodnar closed his career in the Silver-and-Blue with a 31:03.1 for 77th, while fellow senior and 2011 All-American Russell Drummond turned in a time of 32:02.5 for 147th.
Mines surpassed its previous best team score of 134 set last year with 102 points today, comfortably taking second place by 46 points over third-place Alaska Anchorage. Led by three runners who were amongst the top-four finishers, RMAC rival and USTFCCCA No. 1 Adams State won their NCAA Division II record ninth national title with a miniscule 34 total points.
Augustana finished fourth with 182 to edge Chico State by one point, while conference foe Western State, the defending national champion, finished with 194 points for sixth.