Sept. 20, 2010

ALAMOSA, CO - The names were different but the results were the same as the Adams State men's cross country team posted a perfect score at the Joe I. Vigil Open for the second consecutive season, kicking off its quest for a third straight NCAA Division II national championship, Saturday, Sept. 11 at Cattails Golf Course.

The Grizzly women, who like the men have been ranked No. 1 in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA) preseason rankings, were just as dominant, taking the women's team title with a perfect score of 15. Senior Kristen McGlynn led the field and shattered the decade-old course 5-kilometer record by 21 seconds, finishing in 17:01.

Senior Ryan McNiff (Los Alamos, N.M.) took the college men's title in the 8k race and was second overall in a time of 24:34, six seconds under his time from a year ago. Adams State graduate Brian Medigovich, running for Brooks-Hansons, was the overall top finisher, pulling away from McNiff over the final mile to clock a time of 24:17, 13 seconds under his 2009 time.

Following the Grizzlies in the team scoring but well back with 55 points was Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference foe Fort Lewis. Dine College (N.M.) placed third with a team total of 82 points, and RMAC squad Regis University rounded out the team competition with 104 points.

Saturday was the third time that Adams State has posted a perfect team score in the last two seasons. The feat was accomplished in the team's win at the Joe I. Vigil Open to start the 2009 season, and again at the Colorado State Classic in Fort Collins, where the Grizzlies topped Divison I teams Colorado State and Air Force.

Current ASC runners placed second through eighth, and were bookended by a pair of Grizzly graduates. Following McNiff were six Grizzlies making their first appearance in the top 10 at the Joe I. Vigil Open. Taking third place was senior Luke Cragg (Leeds, England), while sophomore Keegan Calmes (Wind Lake, Wisc.) and senior Brandon Birdsong (Lubbock, Texas) rounded out the top five. The last of the Grizzlies 15 team points were accounted for by senior Drew Soucy (Lubbock, Texas) in 25:31, a separation of only 57 seconds for ASC's top five runners.

Running unattached, junior Matt Bond (Worcester, England) came across in seventh, and was followed by redshirt freshman Jovanny Godinez (Pacoima, Calif.), making a 55-second improvement over a year ago. Former ASC runner Florian Theophile, representing France, finished ninth. The first non-Grizzly across the line was Fort Lewis' Kirpno Mutai, 10th overall in a time of 25:56 and earning seven team points.

Coming through the chute next was junior Drew Graham (Newcastle, England) in 26:11. Graham was chased in by a pack of six Grizzlies running unattached and separated by only 30 seconds to take places 12-17.

Despite the loss of the top three runners from their national championship performance last year, the Grizzlies prove that they still have the talent and depth to win it all again. Of the top 25 runners in the meet, 20 are members of the 2010 ASC squad.

"We're going to be almost as good as last year if not just as good," said McNiff following the race. "To defend our championship is going to take a lot of hard work and we're going to have work well together, but I think we definitely have the talent to do it as long as we keep the right goal in mind and keep at it with the same work ethic."

McNiff occupied the Grizzlies No. 4 spot throughout most of last season, and is poised to take the lead for the 2-time defending national champions.

"I was really pleased with our performance as a team. Every year the team changes, but yet the expectation is always the same. This is probably one of the greatest starts we've ever had. We ran a good crew of guys today and for them to finish like they did and do what they did, I'm really proud of them. Ryan McNiff and Luke Cragg showed great leadership for the program so far, and they've taken on that ownership," Martin commented on his two seniors that ran Saturday.

The Grizzly men have now topped the podium in 13 of their last 14 meets dating back to the start of the 2008 season.

Action at Cattails began with the junior and high school meets. In the Don Graf Memorial high school races, the Alamosa boys claimed top honors with 28 points, and were led by individual champion Chad Palmer, who took victory in the 5k race by 13 seconds in a time of 16:25.

The Grizzlies will travel to Colorado Springs next weekend to take part in the Colorado College Invitational. The men's race starts at 9 a.m. and the women follow at 10 a.m.