Adams State has built a reputation as one of the nation's premier cross country programs, and the Grizzlies will once again be vying for the Division II men's and women's titles.

The women's squad has won the last two NCAA titles and 10 championships since 1992, while the men's team finished second to Western State last year with their last NCAA title coming in 2003. The men's team has won five NCAA trophies since 1992.

"The expectation is to win every year," said head coach Damon Martin. "It's not that we're going to win every year, but certainly at the beginning of the year the expectation is to try to win."

Martin credits the dedication of Adams State administrators and hard work by his student-athletes with making the program into one of Division II's finest.

"The school has really been supportive of our cross country and track and field programs " here at Adams State it's a first tier program," said Martin. "There are a lot of kids, when they're recruited, that want to come to a program where they can be a part of something like that. When they come to school here, kids have an expectation of being part of a first-rate program and they're excited to come in and work hard and be a part of that."

The women's team returns five runners from the varsity squad, including seniors Emily Mortensen and Victoria Martinez. Mortensen placed 11th in last year's NCAA Championship, and was the Grizzlies top performer in 2003 with a fourth-place finish. Martinez led Adams State to the 2004 title with a fifth-place finish and she also captured the DMR and 800 meters NCAA titles at the 2005 Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships.

The men's squad has three returning athletes from its 2004 national runner-up team, including Jesus Solis who finished seventh in the championship. Senior Reid Ellis, who finished 15th at nationals last year, and junior Aucencio Martinez, who took second place in the 1,500 meters at the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, are also returning from last season's varsity team.

"We lost some good kids last year, but we also return some good kids (on the men's side)," said Martin. "I would say there are several that are possible leaders of the team. Jesus Solis had a good summer of training and is looking very good. Mario Macias is a guy that redshirted last year and has looked very, very good in the summer. The kids have worked really hard this summer, so hopefully by the end of the year they could be a team that has a shot of being one of those top two or three teams."

The Grizzlies have off-season conditioning which begins early in the summer with several student-athletes staying near campus in Alamosa, Colo., to train together.

"If they don't come (into preseason practice) in shape, then it's not very likely they'll make the team," said Martin. "Our summer training program starts June 1, and since then, these kids have probably run anything from 80 to 100 miles a week over the course of the summer. The dedication and training doesn't start at (preseason) camp. If they haven't done that (gotten into shape) by the time we start practice, then we have no shot to win."

The women's program has a shot to set the record for most team NCAA Championships won this year. They currently share the record of 10 with Cal Poly SLO.

"Every year, I've been very insistent to the kids that they're going out trying to win a title, not to defend one," said Martin. "It's not something that's in our control until they own it. I try to keep them focused on the process of what it's going to take to win, not so much the rewards they'll reap from winning."

The Grizzlies will start that process on Sept. 3 when they host the Joe I. Vigil Open at the Cattails Golf Course in Alamosa.