With the warm-up races out of the way, CSU’s runnin’ Rams are ready to take on their first big challenge of the season.
The men’s and women’s cross country teams will be running at full force as they take on heady competition at the Colorado State Invitational.
The meet will be held at Collindale Golf Course, located at 1441 E. Horsetooth Rd., with an open six-kilometer race leading things off at 8:30 a.m., followed by the women’s 6k race at 9:15, and the men’s 8k at 10 a.m.
“I’m looking forward to running our first big race of the season,” said senior Meg Larson, who sat out the Cowboy Invitational in Laramie, Wyo., last week due to a coach’s decision. “There are going to be a lot of fans there. We want to give them a good show while representing CSU.”
With NCAA Division II champion Western State College and reigning NCAA champion Colorado sending up some of their top athletes, the Rams could find the going tough.
“We should see some difficult competition from Division II with Western coming up and CU sending up its B-team,” said assistant cross country coach John Carter. “All the teams will be good, but I would expect to see a battle between our guys and Western.”
Carter said he expected the same type of competition to come from Western State in the women’s race.
“Western is always one of the toughest (Division II) teams in the nation,” he said. “They always compete with us and they always bring good athletes.”
Though facing tougher competition than in the past, Carter said he does not think either team will falter.
“On the men’s side we should have a tight pack,” he said. “With nine to 10 interchangeable guys who can all run very hard, very fast, I’d say we have a deep team.”
After resting his top athletes last weekend in Wyoming – in order to give some of the younger athletes more experience – head coach Del Hessel said he wants to see what the whole men’s team can do when competing together.
“I want to see the whole team step up,” Hessel said. “They are so close together that I don’t anticipate them separating until the last mile. It’s logical to assume that the top-nine (runners) will finish within 45 seconds of each other.”
On the women’s side, Hessel said the team’s youth and lack of experience forces him to look for different things from the team.
“The whole team has a different characteristic,” Hessel said. “We have three girls who can run with anyone in the country, but from that point we are into the unknown.”
The team’s top three, seniors Larson, Kim Leal and Jen Kintzley, are the backbone of the team, Hessel said.
However, he added that there are other athletes who have the potential to step up and give a great performance.
“I’ve been most pleased with the work of (seniors) Kim Watson and Mary Ridder,” Hessel said. “They are 800-meter runners, yet they have put themselves into the mix of making the team, which would give us more depth.”
On the men’s side, Carter said fans should expect a series of good performances from the men’s team.
“As always I’d look for (senior) Bill Michel, (juniors) Dylan Olchin and Mike Nicks to lead the pack,” he said. “Also, you got (sophomores) Paul Michel, Josh Glabb, (senior) Reagan Robb and (freshman) Matt Cienculli. All those guys should be right there.”