Women’s cross country program building on success

Oct. 29, 2012

Jonathan Toman
[email protected]

The UCCS women’s cross country team is having one of the most successful seasons in team history.

The Mountain Lions are ranked No.4 in the south central region as of Oct.23, their highest ranking this season.

They are one of three Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference teams ranked in the top four in the regional poll, along with Adams State and Western State. The team has also reached a new high in the national poll, ranked No.14 in the country.

The Mountain Lions are enjoying the success of their hard work building the program, said Head Coach David Harmer.

“You have to set the expectations and attitude in any program, and that takes time,” Harmer said. “It becomes the norm as opposed to having to enforce it.”

“This year, it is all about the team, and it’s really cool to be a part of it,” said Melanie Diep, a freshman biology major from Thornton, Colo.

Harmer is in his sixth year as a coach at UCCS, but this is his first as head coach of the women’s cross country team. Before this year, Harmer coached both men and women.

“It’s tough to transition between male and female athletes within a few seconds, and I think this arrangement has helped both teams (men and women) focus,” explained Harmer. “It’s not too different, and it’s nice to be able to focus on one gender,” he added.

In recent meets, the Mountain Lions have enjoyed much success. They took second in the Regis Invitational on Sep. 17.

“That meet showed us that we can compete with the top teams, and we got to run on the regional course,” said Harmer.

“At that meet, people were like, oh, OK, let’s take a look at UCCS,” said Diep.

“That experience and having a good performance bodes well for regionals,” added Harmer.

The team won the Roy Griak Invitational Sep. 29 in St. Paul, Minn., coming in first out of 38 teams. “That was a standout meet for us, and it was a simulator for a national-type environment,” said Harmer.

The Mountain Lions got to host the RMAC Championships on Oct. 20 for the first time in program history – and they responded well, taking third out of 14 teams. Madison Neher led a balanced attack for the Mountain Lions, finishing twelfth overall.

On tap for the Mountain Lions is regionals in Denver on Nov. 3, on the course they saw in the Regis meet. Following regionals, the team is hoping for a trip to nationals in Joplin, Mo., on Nov. 17.