29 January 2019
Walking into the Mountain Lion Fieldhouse on Jan. 21, one of the first things that could be seen was the foot-tall golden trophy with the words “The Power 5” engraved on its front. On its base were the logos of five universities; UCCS, Adams State, Western State, West Texas A&M and Colorado Mesa University. Among these names are the preseason No. 1 Division-II track team in the country, Adams State, and last year’s NCAA Indoor Track and Field champions,West Texas.
On Jan. 19, UCCS hosted the other schools in the Power 5 indoor meet, where points for men and women were combined into a single team score to decide a winner.
In this meet, individual events were scored from 10 points awarded to first place to one point awarded to sixth place finishers. Relays were scored from 10 to two points. At the end of the day, UCCS finished with a total of 246.5 points, beating out second place West Texas.
“I was a little nervous that we weren’t going to be able to pull it off on our home track,” said via email UCCS Head Coach Ross Fellows. “Colorado Mesa added to the team scoring and they’ve got a lot of good kids in the areas that we’re good in.”
After that weekend, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USATFCCCA) announced its revised national Division-II rankings. From December’s preseason poll, the UCCS men moved up 24 spots to No. 44, and the women climbed seven spots to No. 4.
Fellows credited the win to the athletes’ diverse range of abilities and the strength that the Mountain Lions show across multiple events.
“We win with a lot of depth,” he said, “and a lot of people. Everyone is important. We do have our big hitters, but we fill it in with a lot of depth.”
About the meet, Fellows alluded to the benefits of being able to host a meet inside the Fieldhouse, saying “the atmosphere is amazing. It is pretty compacted, so there’s people everywhere and it gets extremely loud. There were a few races and field events where this place was just rocking. A lot of fans screaming, teams screaming. Everyone was behind each other and made those events even better.”
Looking forward, Fellows said there is still work to be done on the men’s side of the team, where the depth is not as strong as he and the other coaches would like. But as for the women, Fellows said “our women’s team this year is unbelievable.”
“We keep everybody healthy,” Fellows said of the entire team, “and they just keep getting a little bit better every week. We’re going to be really hard to beat. It should be a fun year.”
A fun year accompanied the promise of future growth, thanks to a larger-than-normal signing class. Already, UCCS has signed on more than 25 new athletes for the 2019-20 season. Some of them, like Tanner Walsh from the University of Northern Colorado, are transfers that are ready to compete at a moment’s notice without having to wait until next fall.
Fellows credits the Fieldhouse and the team’s current success with drawing in promising new athletes.
“Now we’re established,” said Fellows. “We’re one of the best teams in the country, let alone in the conference. So that 25 number isn’t just developmental kids. These are really good kids that will come in right away, score in our conference, go on to the national meet and be massive contributors.”
After two weeks on the road, the team’s next home meet will be the Colorado Running Company Mountain Lion Open, a two-day event beginning on Feb. 8 at the Mountain Lion Fieldhouse, just two weeks before the start of the RMAC Championships.