While the Men’s Soccer and varsity football teams have been receiving their deserved attention in the last few weeks, the Colorado School of Mines Cross Country Teams have been flying under the radar. As winter sports approach, the cross country teams
remain the sole fall sport still continuing their season, as they competed in the NCAA division II central region championship Saturday in Wayne, Nebraska.
The men’s team led by Senior Ben Zywicki, placed 3rd in the Central Region while the Lady Orediggers came in 10th. Zywicki, the fifth-year senior runner, cruised on his way to an individual first place overall finish at Wayne State College. Despite being a race that covered 10,000 meters in a little over 30 minutes, it was a race that was not decided until the final inches as Zywicki edged out Western State College’s Sean Brown by .01 seconds in one of the closest finishes a cross country race has witnessed. The first place finish is the first ever for an Oredigger and the first top ten finish for Zywicki in either an RMAC, Central Regional or National Championship.
The most exciting portion of the day came from Zywicki’s photo finish, however, as Mines trailed Adams State University and Western State College at the end of the day. For the past 17 championship races, Mines has posted the third best RMAC score behind the two Collegiate powerhouses going back to the fall of the 2004 season. And in the past five championships, Adams, Western and have Mines have placed first, second and third respectively.
Fellow Senior Oredigger Aaron Swift followed close behind Zywicki, placing 4th out of 130 with a time of 32:12.27. The fourth place finish is the best Regional Championship finish for Swift and comes on the heels of an impressive second place finish at the RMAC championships November 6. The fourth place finish is also the second highest placement for a CSM runner at the Regional Championships behind Zywicki’s first place finish.
Coming in after Zywicki and Swift were sophomores Tyler Curtis (19th, 31:56.27), Russell Drummond (23rd, 32:04.47) and Sean Gildea (25th, 32:12.27). For each of the three sophomores, Saturday’s finishes were personal bests at the Regional Championships. Rounding out the team finishes were junior Mack McLain (32nd, 32:31.87) and red-shirt freshman Frank Socha (36th, 32:48.47).
The top three team finishes may have been predictable, but Saturdays score of 72 by the Orediggers is the lowest point total ever at a championship race. The total was also only 14 points behind second-place Western State (58 points), the closest Mines has come to catching the top two schools.
On the Women’s side of the action Mines, did not look like a team missing last year’s standout Sydney Laws or this year’s leader Marie Patton (out with a foot injury). Instead, this team, led by senior and first year Oredigger Morgan Stumb, has filled the gaps nicely. Stumb recorded the women’s team’s best finish Saturday, completing the 6K race in 22:30.40, earning 21st place overall. Freshman Holly Walker, in only her fifth collegiate race, came in next for Mines in 23:20.55 finishing 41st. The top five were rounded out by sophomores Hannah Cooling (69th, 24:12.80), Caitlin Kodweis (84th 24:36.90), and Hannah Schuster (90th, 24:45.40). Their 305 point, 10th place finish ends the 2010 cross country campaign for the Lady Orediggers, who return nearly their entire team next fall.
The top five team finish for the men earned them their sixth straight trip to the National Championships where they finished a program best 3rd place in the 2009 season. The NCAA Division II National Championships will take place December 4 in Louisville, Kentucky. The last time the men competed in Louisville? October 2, 2010 when they finished 2nd overall amidst an array of Division I programs and several top 25 Division II schools.