The purest form of sport will be on its biggest stage Nov. 25 in Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA Cross Country Championships, and the Running Rams of CSU will be there.
There will be no umpires calling balls and strikes, nor referees throwing flags, just 250 of the nation’s best athletes running from start to finish with one goal in mind: to cross the finish line before the person next to them.
After giving a strong, but not superb, effort Saturday at the Mountain Regional meet in New Mexico, CSU’s men’s cross country team managed to obtain an at-large bid to the national meet.
The women’s team, however, was not as fortunate, as a tremendous effort that placed them fourth in one of the toughest regions in the nation went for naught when the NCAA selection committee omitted the team from the field.
“There were a lot of tears for the women,” said head coach Del Hessel after informing his female athletes that they were not chosen. “They ran the best race I’ve seen from a women’s team … I thought they would make it, but it just didn’t happen.”
Though the CSU women did not qualify as a team, the Rams will still be represented on the women’s side by individual qualifier Katie Yemm, who ran her best race of the season in New Mexico.
“Things are just coming together for me,” Yemm said.
Yemm will be looking to improve upon her 2001 championship race where she finished 80th overall with a time of 21 minutes, 57 seconds.
Meanwhile the men head to Indiana with their sights set on improving upon last season’s 22nd place finish overall.
“We’re going to go out and give it our all,” said junior Bill Michel, who finished second for the Rams in New Mexico. “We don’t want (the season) to end with any regrets.”
Michel added that the team is aiming to finish in the top 15.
Also representing the Rams on the men’s side are seniors Austin Vigil, Ammon Larsen and Raegan Robb, junior Dylan Olchin and freshmen Josh Glaab and Matt Ciencuilli.
Having finished a close second in the Mountain West Conference Championships and a mediocre sixth in New Mexico, these Rams claim they are ready to put it all on the line.
“We have something to prove,” Larsen said. “And now is the time to prove it.”