SAINT LEO, Fla. -- A late kick in the final two kilometers propelled the Adams State University men to their 12th NCAA Division II National Championship on Saturday morning from The Abbey Course.
The Grizzlies trailed only Grand Valley State University at the 8.8K checkpoint but gained traction down the home stretch to surpass the Lakers at the 10K finish line. The late burst produced a winning score of 54 with the Lakers coming in second at 79.
The hardware is the 12th title for ASU since joining the NCAA Division II ranks in 1992. It serves as the program's 24th overall national championship (NAIA). Furthermore, it's now the 51st national title combined between the ASU cross country and track & field programs.
The ASU men have now won seven cross country titles in the past nine seasons. Saturday's win now gives Damon Martinnine titles as a men's cross country coach.
Adams State climbed to the top of the leaderboard with strong finishes from their 3 through 5 runners in Lucio Ramirez, Kale Adams, and Chandler Reid. The aforementioned trio improved their placing in the final kilometer to beat their Grand Valley counterpart. The biggest shift came from Reid as ASU's fifth runner who jumped from 29th at the 8.8K mark to 25that the finish line. Meanwhile, the Lakers fifth runner dropped from 17th to 43rd in the same span.
"I'm extremely proud of the young men who ran today. They've had some hard battles and worked all year with the goal of bringing a national title back to Alamosa." Said head coach Damon Martin, "Last year we fell short and they really wanted to rectify the ship. Today you could see the determination in their faces. With a kilometer to go we were a little behind but moving forward they won every little battle. They all passed two or three people and it made all the difference in the word."
The championship charge was led by Sydney Gidabuday who closed out a sensational sophomore campaign with a fourth place finish of 29.56.8. Gidabuday concluded Saturday with a 4:50 mile pace. He finished 6th overall last season as a freshman. He was one of six runners to earn All-American status for the ASU men.
"It was tough here and there for the individuals, but, as a team we ran how we wanted to all season." Gidabuday said following the race.
Kyle Masterson closed his collegiate career with a strong 8th place mark of 30:35.6. Masterson steadily climbed into the top 10 throughout the race. At the 1.3K checkpoint, he was positioned 39th overall but kept improving his position with each checkpoint that followed.
"He has really overcome a lot of adversity the last few years. When he was a sophomore he was 18th at the national meet." Martin said of Masterson, "Since then he's had two different knee surgeries. But what a whale of a race he ran today."
Ramirez and Adams also finished strong and registered points for the Grizzlies on Saturday. As ASU's third runner, Ramirez checked in at 80th at the first checkpoint but crossed the finish line for 9th with a time of 30:36.0. Ramirez – a junior college transfer – made his way to Adams State after running at Orange Coast College for former Adams State All-American runner, Marco Ochoa.
Adams initially checked in at 35th early on but claimed 17th overall at 30:47.8. Reid concluded the ASU scoring as the fifth runner with a time of 31:03.4 for 25th.
Rounding out the ASU field for the men were Joshua Joseph (31:14.0) in 37th and Jackson Sayler (35:01.0) in 230th.
The Grizzlies showed their depth as Adams and Joseph registered two of the top three times by a freshman at the championships.
"This is a championship won by a team of believers. We lost conference and regionals but we had faith in Coach Martin's plan and our ability to come through on the big stage. We did a lot to change our culture this year and it's made a big difference from our first to our last guy." Masterson said of his team's performance. "Today was the biggest battle we've been in. We were losing going into the last 1,000 meters. We attacked that last 1K with a lot of heart. I'm so proud of every guy on this team, from the first to the 40th. We are proud to bring a title back to Alamosa."
The ASU men tallied a team average of 30:36.0 and a total time of 152:59.6. The Grizzlies concluded the meet with a spread of 1:06.6.