Every season, every sport comes to this point somewhere along the line. Make or break; win or go home.
The Rams cross country team has reached that critical point, and this Saturday they will be heading to Albuquerque, N.M., to compete in the NCAA Mountain Regional meet.
If the team does well, the Rams will move on to the NCAA Championships on Nov. 20. Otherwise, it is a trip back to Fort Collins and an off-season to think about what could have gone differently.
Standing in the way of both the men and the women will be some tough competition from around the region. Four teams in the top 30 will run in the men’s race and five teams from the top 30 will compete on the women’s side.
In order to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, the teams will need to finish either first or second in their respective races. After that, the results of the race will be sent to a committee who will then decide whose season should continue.
Head Coach Bryan Berryhill said that he feels confident in the 24th-ranked women’s team, but he knows that they will probably need to finish in the top four in order to move on.
“They feel like they have had a pretty good year,” Berryhill said, “but if they don’t show up this weekend it doesn’t matter.”
As for the men, who have had a relatively disappointing season thus far, Berryhill said they have been running well in practice and he thinks they will be able to improve on their third-place finish at the Mountain West Conference Championships two weeks ago.
“We’re just going in there with the hopes of improving on last time,” Berryhill said. “They ran a little better and we are just hoping to improve on that.”
Redshirt freshman Jeremy Freed said that the team is excited to head to New Mexico and that they are well aware of the difficult road that leads to the championships.
“We just know that we have one last race to make our season better and erase some of the bad things that have happened,” Freed said. “It is a great opportunity to change the whole tone of our season.”
Sports staff writer Nick Hubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.