COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Led by individual champion Alicia Nelson, Adams State put four runners amongst the top five en route to a dominating victory at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships on Saturday at Monument Valley Park.
The conference title was ASU’s 25th overall and was the ninth in the last 11 years.
The Grizzlies, ranked second nationally, scored just 21 points, the fewest of any team at an RMAC Championship meet since 2004, to easily out-distance fourth-ranked Western State, which scored 46 points, and the rest of the 14-team field.
Host UC-Colorado Springs, ranked 15th nationally, was third with 94 points while No. 14 Colorado Mines took fourth with 103.
Nelson completed the three loops of the 2,000-meter course in a time of 21 minutes, 57.1 seconds, good for a 16.6-second win ahead of teammate Kelly Lamb (22:13.7).
ASU sophomore Lauren Martin and junior Alyssa Selve also turned in strong performances, taking fourth and fifth with respective times of 22:31.8 and 22:37.3.
Only Western State’s Sophie McNeely broke up the Grizzlies’ pack, taking third one second behind Lamb.
Meanwhile, junior Tracee Van der Wyk completed the Grizzlies’ team score with a ninth place finish in 22:57.0.
Sophomore Jessie Brunett also aided the 25-point margin of victory as she finished 11th overall as the Grizzlies’ No. 6 runner in 23:09.4, three places and 14. 5 seconds ahead of Western State’s fourth finisher.
The Grizzlies’ top five were 29 seconds faster per runner than their Mountaineer counterparts, who won the 2010 and 2011 RMAC titles by just 15 combined points.
Nelson, who skipped the 2010 Championships due to injury, was second at last year’s meet, decided by four points (27-31), and third as a freshman in 2009, a year in which the Grizzlies claimed team victory by 49 points (29-78).
With her victory on Saturday, her first collegiate cross country win, Nelson earned RMAC Runner of the Year honors. She has now finished in the top 10 in eight consecutive meets over the last two seasons.
She has also been the Grizzlies’ top finisher in the last seven meets in which she has competed.
Lamb took sixth in 2010 and was fifth at last year’s championships. She, like Nelson, is now a three-time First Team All-RMAC performer. Those honors go to the top seven individual finishers meaning Martin and Selve helped the Grizzlies land a majority of the first team spots.
Only Colorado Christian’s Regan Mullen stopped a Grizzly sweep of the awards to earn RMAC Freshman of the Year accolades as the top freshman finisher. She, McNeely and Western State’s Tara Richardson, who took sixth in 22:44.2, were the only non-Grizzlies on the First Team All-RMAC squad.
The nation’s top-ranked Grizzly men also swept the team and individual titles on Saturday as sophomore Tabor Stevens raced to victory, fueling a 30-44 win against second-ranked and runner-up Colorado Mines. Fourth-ranked Western State finished third marking the first time since 1995 that the Grizzlies and Mountaineers did not finish in first and second.