A busy and exciting weekend was in store for DII Cross Country as conference champions were decided across the nation. Here are how the USTFCCCA top ten teams in the nation fared, as they now have two weeks to prepare for regionals.
RMAC CHAMPIONSHIPS — GRIZZLIES ON TOP AGAIN
The Adams State Grizzlies went in to Cattails Golf Course ranked No. 2 and came out as No. 1 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference this past Saturday. RMAC Coach of the Year Damon Martin led his Grizzlies to their fourth consecutive RMAC Women’s Cross Country title.
Freshman Noel Prandoni led the charge finishing in first place with an impressive 20:43.7 time. Georgia Porter of No. 6-ranked Western State finished second with a 21:18.7 time. Three Grizzly juniors — Jenna Thurman, Maura O’Brien and Rachel Kresl — rounded out the top five as Adams State won handedly with 20 points with Western State finishing second 28 points off of the lead. Colorado Mines, who were ranked No. 17 in the country entering the meet, rounded out the top three.
Prandoni was awarded both the RMAC Runner of the Year and Freshman of the Year for her big day.
GLIAC CHAMPIONSHIPS — THE BATTLE OF THE BEASTS
The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference boasted the No. 1 and No. 3-ranked teams in the Nation, but heading into Saturday’s Championships, only one could leave with the GLIAC title.
For the 15th consecutive season, head coach Jerry Baltes' GVSU Lakers would take home the crown. The 2015 Women’s Coach of the Year also took home Men’s Coach of the Years honors behind their 14th title in a row.
Senior Emily Oren led the pack en route to Athlete of the Year honors for her No.1 ranked Hillsdale Chargers, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Lakers. Oren’s finishing time of 21:11.1 bested GVSUs Gina Patterson for first place by 7.7 seconds. The Chargers and Lakers dominated the top ten with four runners each.
Grand Valley State held off Hillsdale 30 to 38, with Northern Michigan (No. 9) rounding out the top three.
NSIC CHAMPIONSHIPS — BULLDOGS PREVAIL
The No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs pulled out their second title in the past three years this past Sunday. Coming off a heartbreaking tie-breaker loss to Augustana in last season’s NSIC Championship, the Bulldogs were poised to make their way back to the top. Despite not having a runner place in the top three, the Bulldogs stuffed the top ten with three teammates.
"Our women were focused and packed together well," head coach Joanna Warmington told UMD Athletics. ”We are certainly excited about the win, but still have another big race in a couple of weeks to gear for.”
University of Mary — ranked No. 21 in the nation heading into Sunday’s action from Les Bolstad Golf Course — walked away in second place overall but held their heads high behind the best time of the day. Alexis Zeis of U-Mary won the day, finishing at 21:41.7. Zeis edged out Leah Seivert of Augustana (ranked No. 8 overall) for the Individual Championship. Breanna Colbenson, Emilee Trost and senior Hannah Olson finished fifth, sixth and seventh respectively for the Bulldogs to bring home the title for Minnesota-Duluth.
"It is not often you get to coach student athletes this talented and this grounded," U-Mary coach Dennis Newell told UM Athletics of Zeis' gutsy performance. "I have been blessed with a few, and Lexi certainly can be put in that special category."
The Bulldogs will rest for two weeks before defending their back-to-back titles at the DII Central Regionals.
CCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS — NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT
Chico State — ranked No. 5 in the nation and winners of the past seven straight California Collegiate Athletic Association’s championships — were the heavy favorites to take home their eighth straight title Sunday at Golden Gate Park. How they achieved it was an underdog story like no other.
Wildcats junior and once walk-on McCall Habermehl picked the perfect time to snag her first victory of the season. She edged out teammate junior Sadie Gastelum by 0.4 seconds to earn CCAA Most Valuable Runner and the Individual Championship. The first and second place finish was enough to take home another title.
"This wasn't something I thought about at all,” Habermehl told Chico State Athletics. “Sadie has been dominating all season. I was just hoping for a top 10… at most a top five.”
The Wildcats totaled 38 points edging out UC San Diego (who finished with 61 points) and Cal. St. - San Bernardino (100 points). The victory earned coach Gary Towne the CCAA Coach of the Year.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN — LANCERS AND SEAWOLVES LEADERS OF THE PACK
The No. 7-ranked Alaska Anchorage SeaWolves, behind the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Athlete of the Year Joyce Chelimo, had little trouble taking home the 2015 GNAC title. Chelimo finished with a time of 21:00.9 for the Individual Championship, while teammate Caroline Kurgat finished eight seconds off her pace in second place. Kimberly Coscia — who finished ninth — would take home the GNAC Freshman of the Year.
No. 10 California Baptist was able to repeat as PacWest champions, defeating Azusa Pacific by 22 points. Eileen Stressling of Azusa Pacific was the individual champion, holding off Cal Baptist’s Caroline Barkechir who finished second by seven seconds.
"It was a really tough race, I kicked really hard at the end to finish strong," junior Barkechir told Cal Baptist's Athletics. "Our strength as a team comes from unity and trust within each other and it encouraged me throughout the race."