Men’s cross country sets sight on regional championship after solid start

Sept. 28, 2015

Jonathan Toman
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The men’s cross country team is going to know exactly what to order at a few restaurants in Canyon, Texas by the end of the season.

After starting the season with the Rust Buster on Sept. 5, the team traveled to Canyon to compete in the West Texas Stampede on Sept. 19, where they finished third. The same site will host the South Central Region Championship on Nov. 7.

That race will determine which teams advance to the national meet. Seeing the course before November was important, according to sophomore David Kimaiyo, who won the Rust Buster and finished third at the West Texas Stampede.

“It was pretty much a linkage for what to expect,” said Kimaiyo. “It’s now more familiar to us, it was a really great thing for us to go there.”

“The Rust Buster did what it was supposed to do, it got us some experience,” said head coach Mark Misch. “It was a small but high caliber field in Texas, we wanted to go and mix it up with them.”

Misch said the trip to Texas served as a dry run for the regional meet.

“We wanted to spend as much time on it as we could,” he said. “We have to be able to not get too antsy and understand why we do what we do.”

When the team returns for regionals, everything will be the same, including the hotel and restaurants.

In the Sept. 23 national ranking, UCCS placed 21st. Four RMAC teams placed in the top 12. For Misch, that means he doesn’t have to search very hard for high level competition.

“To win a meet, you’re having to beat someone very good,” he said. “It’s impossible to just go through the motions, and we try to use that to our advantage.”

“We race against the best every time,” said junior Mitch Klomp. “Then, at the national level, it’s just another day at the office.”

The team only has two seniors this year, but Misch still sees his team developing and competing like he wants.

“It’s not so much the year as where they are personally in development in the program,” he said. “Every guy counts, that’s why you’re on the team, we have to have other guys ready to compete at a high level.”

“We’ve seen a lot of positives from our first two meets,” said Klomp. “Guys are ready to roll once championship season rolls around.”

All three know the season comes down to the regional meet, with Misch terming the prior meets as essentially “irrelevant.” At the regional meet, he wants the team to focus on the things they can control, not other teams.

“We want to put ourselves in the best position to have a high finish,” he said. “If we do those things well, we’re always going to have a shot.”

The fact that the season comes down to one meet motivates Klomp.

“When you get to that day that matters, you’re ready to go,” he said.

The Mountain Lions are next in action at the Roadrunner Invitational on Oct. 3 at Washington Park in Denver. The RMAC Championships follow on Oct. 24 in Alamosa, Colo.

The NCAA Division II South Central Regional Championships are Nov. 7 in Canyon, Texas. The top six teams from the regional meet advance to the NCAA Division II Championships on Nov. 21 in Joplin, Mo.