The longer a student-athlete runs for Adams State men’s cross country team, the more the tradition of success is in ingrained in the runner. That is the way redshirt sophomore Jackson Sayler sees it.
His reasoning helps explain why the Grizzlies have won the last three NCAA Division II national titles and currently ranked No. 1 in the USTFCCCA poll.
“The longer you are at Adams, the closer you become with your teammates,” Sayler said. “This is my third year with a lot of these guys. We are all doing well and pushing hard in workouts and that gets everybody excited and motivated. We have a really strong chemistry and that translate into the race.
“I don’t want to let down my teammates and they don’t want to let me down. We are racing for each other and Adams, the school, because of the tradition. The longer you are here, the more passionate you become for the program.”
Adams State has a younger team this season, said coach Damon Martin.
“We have a very talented group, but we are young,” Martin said. “I think in a lot of ways, they have a chip on their shoulders. “
The Grizzlies were tested Saturday at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn. They competed in the NCAA Division I group and placed ninth out of 23 schools. Michigan State took first.
“We go to some of these larger invitational usually once a season to kind of prepare the kids on what they are going to see and what it is going to feel like to go out in a larger group of people,” Martin said.
“It gives them experience what the national meet might look like and feel like. Certainly, we want to expose them to that and see how they respond. We want them to perform at a high level.”
Before the meet, Sayler hoped the Adams State runners ran in a pack.
“I will be pleased if we maintain a close group of guys,” Sayler said.
That mission was accomplished. Freshman Sydney Gidabuday finished the 8K course with a time of 26:00.1, followed by Sayler at 26:08.5 and then senior Dominic Cabada at 26:08.7 and freshman Brian Glassey at 26:09.1.
Martin is not concerned where his team is ranked now.
“Our program is more measured on how it does at the end of the year,” Martin said. “We have won national titles when we have been ranked No. 1. We won national titles when we’ve been ranked second, third and fourth and we’ve lost national titles when we’ve been ranked No. 1.”
Minnesota Duluth women’s cross country off to a strong start
A year go, Minnesota Duluth women’s cross country went into the national meet with high hopes. The Bulldogs finished 10th in 2013. Well they topped that mark significantly by placing third.
“It was incredibly exciting,” senior Hannah Olson said. “It was the highest our team has ever placed. It was incredible to be able to jump up that high and place as a team and stand on the podium nationally. We were all very thrilled to have been able to pull off some great races and get to show that we belonged with the top group in the nation.
“We had four crowned All-Americans, myself included. It was definitely one of the highlights in all of our careers.”
The accomplishments of last year will stick with the Minnesota Duluth cross country runners for a lifetime. But the Bulldogs are determined to create more memories this season. Olson is back in her second season as a team captain.
“It has been an honor and a privilege,” Olson said of being a captain. “These are great girls I get to run with every day. Being able to help them every day and having that role as captain is something I am very appreciative of.”
Minnesota Duluth, ranked fourth in the USTFCCCA poll is off to a great start. The Bulldogs have finished first in their first three meets, including Saturday’s Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis. Competing in the NCAA Division II group, Minnesota Duluth was 10 points better than second-place finisher Northern Michigan.
“So far this season we have run pretty well,” Olson said on Friday. “We have a different type of team this year, losing some of our athletes from last year. We are much more of a pack this year with our top three, myself, Breanna Colbenson and Emilee Trost and then our next four runners in a tight pack as well.”
That is exactly how they performed at the Roy Griak Invitational. Colbenson took third out of all the Division II competitors with a time of 22:38.5 on the 6K course. Trost was sixth with a time of 22:55.2 and Olson finished 10th with a time of 23:10.6.
It was the biggest meet so far this season for Minnesota Duluth. The Bulldogs competed against 19 other teams and over 360 runners.
“This race helps a lot,” Olson said. “It gives us a chance to see how we do in a race against stronger competition but also a race with a lot of athletes running with us. That can change the dynamics when you are racing and surrounded by a lot of people. Getting practice running with a lot of girls around you is very helpful when you get to championship season.”
Strong start for Washburn Volleyball
Friday and Saturday evening were perfect reasons why Washburn volleyball coach never talks about rankings with his team.
Washburn, ranked No. 7 in the AVCA volleyball poll, played at home against No. 14 Nebraska-Kearney on Friday and the Ichabods won 3-0. The next evening, again at home, Washburn played Fort Hays State, which entered the match with an 8-6 record. Fort Hays State won 3-0 and handed Washburn its first loss of the season in 14 matches.
“We don’t ever talk about that stuff,” Herron said. “I try to make my team assume that everybody we play is just as good as the next team. We try to treat everyone the same. But with kids and social media, they know everything. You can’t hide anything.”
Despite the loss on Saturday, Washburn is off to a good start. Last year Washburn finished 24-7 and 16-6 in the MIAA. The Ichabods lost in the first round of the Central Region
“The biggest thing for us is last year we had 11 new players. It was a huge adjustment for us to bring in that many new faces and still having consistency. We didn’t have that this year.
“We only lost one player from last year. Losing one and gaining three made practice easier. Everybody knows everybody and what they can and can’t do. That is the biggest improvement so far this season.”
One of the returners who have solidified the team is senior outside hitter Leanna Willer, who leads the team with 215 kills.
“Leanna is a terrific leader. I didn’t think that would be the case when she first came here. She leads by example more than anything else. She is a great defender. She can obviously swing. She is a terrific attacker. She has turned herself into a decent blocker, I used to make fun her. She has made that a point of emphasis for herself. Most of all, she has the respect of her teammates.”
Willer said all of players have worked hard to get better.
“I think we all put in a lot of work,” she said. “Blocking was definitely not one of my strong aspects, especially coming in my freshman year. I have been working on that a lot on that as well as other areas defense, passing and hitting. It all has to come together. Concentrating on the little things will help us improve overall.”
Although the Ichabods would have preferred to delay the first conference loss, Willer said she relishes playing in a tough conference.
“Sometimes it gets a little stressful, but at the same time, I would rather have quality competition and tight games instead of beating everyone or getting beat all the time,” Willer said. “We are challenged a lot and makes us better.”
Week four games to watch results
- No. 15 Pittsburg State bounced back from its first loss and handed Fort Hays State it first loss of the season with a 31-24 victory in Hays, Kan. The Gorillas outscored Fort Hays 14-0 in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory. Freshman quarterback John Roderique scored the game-winning touchdown on a 6-yard run with 5:36 left in the game.
- No. 6 Angelo State went on the road and came away with a 35-17 victory at West Texas A&M. It was the first time since 2005 Angelo State has beaten the Buffs. Angelo State did it in front of 13,798 fans. The Rams generated 606 yards of total offense. Quarterback Kyle Washington broke a school record with 500 yards of total offense. He threw for 376 yards.
- No. 20 Texas A&M-Commerce scored 14-unanswered points for a 42-31 home victory against Eastern New Mexico. Running back Richard Cooper had 153 yards rushing for Commerce and his teammate, Theo Wofford rushed for 133 yards.
- Fayetteville State snapped Virginia State 17-game winning streak against CIAA competition with a 33-20 victory at Virginia State. It was the first win of the season for Fayetteville. The Broncos jumped to a 19-0 lead thanks to three touchdown passes from quarterback Derek Bryant.
- Kentucky State scored with 5:31 left on a 13-yard pass from Alex Springs to Corey Slaughter that lifted the Thorobreds to a 21-17 victory over Central State in the Circle City Classic at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts. It was the first win of the season for Kentucky State.