Nationals preview

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Nov 202003
 
Authors: Joshua Pilkington

In a scene that would make the creators of Ephedra jealous,

hundreds of the best distance runners from around the nation will

gather at Irv Warren Memorial Golf Course to compete in the NCAA

Cross Country Championships Monday.

Thirty-eight women’s teams and 31 men’s teams, composed of seven

runners each, make up the field in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and among

them will be the seven men and women who represent the CSU

Rams.

After failing to qualify last season for the national meet, the

women’s team returns on the strength of a deep roster.

“There isn’t one person that stands out more than the rest,”

said junior Michelle Carmen. “Any one of us can finish first on any

day.”

Indeed. In their past four meets, the Rams have had a different

woman lead the team across the finish line in three of them.

Sophomore transfer Nicole Feest, senior Katie Yemm and junior

Crystal Clark have been top finishers for the Rams this season.

Yemm, a top runner for CSU since arriving in 1999, suffered a

setback last weekend in Ogden, Utah, at the Mountain Regional meet,

yet the Rams still finished third to nationally ranked Brigham

Young (No. 1) and Colorado (No. 7), a further testament to the

women’s depth.

Their third-place finish in the Mountain Region pushed the Rams’

women from No. 22 to No. 16 in the national polls and head coach

Del Hessel said he believes a top-10 finish is within reach for

both teams.

The top spot in the women’s 6-kilometer race should come down to

the defending-champion Cougars and the Cardinal of Stanford. Both

teams boast a wealth of fast, determined runners, but BYU’s women’s

head coach Patrick Shane said his team has hit its stride.

“We are starting to peak and it looks like we will be back in

the zone again this year,” he said. “We are used to the pressure

that going to a National Championship brings. We have learned to

deflect that pressure and just plan on repeating that.”

For the men the task to finish strong falls on the shoulders on

the team’s top four runners: senior Austin Vigil, juniors Bill

Michel and Mike Nicks and sophomore Josh Glaab.

After Hessel pulled him from the Mountain West Conference

Championship meet after three miles due to fatigue issues, Nicks

bounced back at Regionals to finish 21st overall and third on the

team.

Hessel said his presence on the team is essential, especially if

the Rams hope to improve on last season’s 27th-place finish.

Freshman Matt Ciancuilli helped solidify a previously

inconsistent fifth spot after finishing 32nd overall at Regionals.

Another strong performance from him could push the Rams’ men to a

top-10 finish.

Another factor pushing the Rams is the presence of two other MWC

competitors. Both Air Force (No. 8) and BYU (No. 11) have narrowly

defeated the 16th-ranked Rams in consecutive meets, leaving the CSU

eager to prove it is the better team.

The overall team title should come down to a battle between No.

1 Stanford, No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 3 Colorado, while the

individual crown could go to several men, most notably among them

Dathan Ritzenheim of CU and Kip Kangogo of BYU.

Ritzenheim and Kangogo finished first and second, respectively

at Regionals and BYU men’s head coach Ed Eyestone said he expects a

similar battle at Nationals.

“I expect Kip to perform much better at Nationals,” Eyestone

said. “I expect Kip and Ritzenheim to go tooth and nail at

Nationals.”

The gun for the men’s 10k goes off at 11 a.m. (Central) and at

12:15 p.m. for the women’s 6k.

 

 

 

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