JOPLIN, Mo. – Clear out a nice space on the trophy shelf, because the Colorado School of Mines men's cross country team will bring back to Golden the first NCAA Division II team championship in school history.
Mines defeated RMAC rival and three-time defending champs Adams State by 21 points to win not only the first National Championship in program history, but the first for a team in Mines Athletics history.
"I think this win is a testament to this program," said Mines head coach Chris Siemers. "We have been top-five for six straight years - knocking on that door so many times, and finally we kicked that door wide open! To win the first national title in school history… wow."
Racing on the 10K Tom Rutledge Cross Country Course on the campus of Missouri Southern State University, Mines had their top-five all finish within the top-47 of the field to finish with a final team total of 100. Adams State finished behind them with 127 points while Alaska Anchorage, Grand Valley State and Shippensburg rounded out the top-five in team scoring.
"These kids prepare better than anyone in nation, and today they get to celebrate their hard work," said Siemers. "Today was seemingly everyone's best race of the season."
The Orediggers knew they were onto something special when senior Marty Andrie and juniors Nathanael Williams and Dan Mahoney came in at 18th, 21st and 22nd, respectively, to earn all-America finishes.
Andrie finished 18th with a time of 30:11.2 which was .70 seconds faster than his time at the NCAA South Central Regionals. While Mahoney 22nd-place finish was at a time of 30:13.8. The key of the three was Williams' who improved 28 seconds over his run at the regionals with a new personal best of 30:13.7 for 21st overall.
With the possibility of a National Championship on the horizon, Mines needed two more runners to have special races to seal the deal, and they got just that freshman Grant Colligan and junior Seth Topper.
Colligan joined Andrie, Williams and Mahoney as an All-American with a 33rd-place finish of 30:24.9. Finally, Topper – improving almost two minutes over his region race run – ran the race of his life with a time of 30:40.6 to place 47th overall.
Completing the Mines lineup was freshman Josh Hoskinson and sophomore Logan Winfield who placed 86th and 153rd, respectively, in the 246 runner field.
"I'm just so thankful for all the alumni and who came out here today and gave us such special support around the entire course," said Siemers. "This victory is for every single runner on this team – not just the seven who ran today. They all drove here from Golden to be here for this special moment.
"We were the underdogs who finally came out on top."