Harriers Shine At NCAA National Championships In Joplin
Men's XC Caps Banner Season With Runner-Up Finish At National Championships
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.
Women Grab Eighth Place At NCAA Cross Country Championships
JOPLIN, Mo. – The Colorado School of Mines women's cross country team made the most of its return to the NCAA Division II National Championships as the Orediggers seized its third top-10 finish since 2003, taking eighth out of 32 teams Saturday at the Missouri Southern State Cross Country Course in Joplin.
Back in the national championship field for the first time since 2005, Mines totaled 292 points, topping USTFCCA No. 10 Winona State (304 points) and RMAC foe and No. 11 UC-Colorado Springs (326) in ninth and 10th place, and just missed seventh place held by Shippensburg by five points.
Red-shirt junior Hannah Cooling turned in one of the most memorable performances of her collegiate career, improving 19 positions in the final 3K to take 54th position with a personal-best and team-leading time of 21:38.3. Less than a second back was senior Hannah Schuster who finished 56th in the 249-runner field, crossing the line for the final time with her fastest time yet of 21:39.1
Senior Marie Patton and sophomore Chloe Gustafson finished the last leg together, coming home in 78th and 79th place with times of 21:58.7 and 21:59.1, respectively. An individual qualifier to the 2011 NCAA Championships in Spokane, Washington, Gustafson bettered last season's time by over 1:15 with the fastest time in the 6K distance of her young career.
Rounding out the scoring for Mines was sophomore Kirsten Farquhar who made one of the biggest improvements of the morning, climbing 48 spots in the final half of the race to take 97th with a time of 22:17.3.
Freshman Ann Joyce Miller stopped the clock in 22:36.2 for 125th, while classmate Kaylie Haynes finished in 22:56.0 for 167th.
Grand Valley State, the USTFCCA third-ranked squad entering the day, was crowned team champion with 101 points, narrowly edging runner-up Augustana (104 points) and Adams State (109). Adams State's Alicia Nelson ran away with the individual title by over nine seconds with a record time of 20:03.3 to make it a clean-sweep of the postseason hardware. Nelson also took first at the RMAC Championships in October and the South Regional Championships in Denver two weeks ago.