For the first time, Chadron State is hosting the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference’s cross country meet this Saturday morning, Oct. 21. The meet will bring scores of runners to the college, and most of them have never seen the Eagles’ picturesque course that is in hills on the south edge of the campus.
The course is uniquely situated on college property and is a rarity among Division II campuses. It is the only on-campus cross country course in the conference.
Chadron State coach Brian Medigovich said all 15 conference schools that have the sport are expected to participate. While each school is limited to nine men and nine women in the varsity action, the conference also has a race for remaining team members.
Also on tap is an alumni race that is expected to draw numerous runners who have concluded their collegiate eligibility, but are continuing to run. Chadron State president Randy Rhine is providing some prize money for the top three in both the men’s and women’s alumni races.
NCAA rules limit the collegiate athletes to receiving medals.
Medigovich, a four-time cross country All-American at Adams State, is projecting that both team races will be tight.
Adams State has dominated both conference championships through the years.
The Grizzlies’ men have won 34 titles and tied for two more dating back to 1965 while Western State has won it 12 times. Until last year, the only other schools to win a men’s crown were the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 1971 and Southern Colorado, now Colorado State-Pueblo, in 1978, when it shared first place with Adams State.
Last fall, when the conference meet was at Black Hills State, Colorado Mines ran away with the spoils. Although Sydney Gidabuday of Adams State won the race, the next five finishers were Orediggers. Thus, Mines finished with 20 points and Adams State was second with 44.
Mines runners who finished third, fourth and fifth last year remain on this year’s roster. Gidibuday is also on the Adams State roster, but he hasn’t competed much this fall and is unlikely to run Saturday, according to information from the school’s sports information office.
In the women’s competition, Adams State has been the conference meet winner 28 times, including last year. Western State has taken top honors the remaining seven years. The Lady Grizzlies had 33 points a year ago and Western State was second with 77.
Adams State men is first and Colorado Mines second in the latest men’s Division II national rankings. Pueblo is tied for 13th and Western State is 18th.
The women’s national rankings have Cal Baptist first and Grand Valley State of Michigan second, followed by Adams State and Western State. Also in the top 25 are Colorado Mines at 13th and Colorado-Colorado Springs at 24th.
Medigovich anticipates that both of his teams will finish somewhere between fifth and 10th. He said running at home should help the Eagles.
“Runners who like hilly courses will do well,” the coach opined. “Those who’d rather run on flat land won’t like it much.”
The men will run eight kilometers and the women six.
Led by 2016 seniors Alejandro Garcia and Dylan Stansbury, the Eagles finished fifth in the men’s team standings last year. That was CSC’s highest finish since it reinstated cross country in 2012. Both Garcia and Stansbury are expected to enter the alumni race.
The CSC women were 12th last year. Their best finish was sixth in 2013. The Lady Eagles’ leaders that year, Stacy Girard and Ashley Riesen Stephens, both reside in Chadron.
The alumni race will lead off Saturday’s schedule at 8:45. The women’s race is set for 10 a.m., followed by the men at 10:45 and the junior varsities at 11:15.
Medigovich said spectators are welcome to watch the meet. The course, located south of the football practice fields, has been draped on both sides by about six miles of small, colorful flags. The flags will tell, but forecasts for Saturday morning predict 10 to 20 mile per hour winds, which could make the course steeper than it grades out.