Mines' Ben Zywicki takes over the lead from Jackson Brainerd of Colorado College. Photo by Alan Versaw.
The Air Force Academy, a Division I program, kept it from becoming a clean sweep, but Colorado School of Mines served notice to its DII rivals the young men and women running for Art Siemers had a very productive summer. While it may not surprise many people to learn that about the Oredigger men, the Oredigger women could be back on the road to being a very competitive program, something that hasn't happened since Heather Beresford was leading the Mines women.
In the early stages of the race, the women's 4K race appeared to be Danielle Kehoe's (Metro State) to lose. Kehoe opened a lead of nearly 50 meters at points during the first 3K, but Kehoe failed to account for one stalker, Sydney Laws. And it was the Mines senior who found another gear in the final kilometer to win by an easy margin of more than 15 seconds.
Just behind Kehoe was a mass of Air Force blue, led by senior Ally Romanko. The Falcon women sat back in formation through the first 2K and then charged through the field, overtaking all but Laws, Kehoe, and Marie Patton of Mines. When the dust had settled Air Force claimed places 4-6-6-8-10-11 for a convincing team margin of victory 33-53 over Mines. Metro State was a close third with 54.
The men's 6K race also witnessed an early leader succumbing to the pursuit of a Mines harrier. This time it was Colorado College's Jackson Brainerd who dropped from the lead when Ben Zywicki of Mines turned up the heat. Running on a familiar course from his high school days at Rampart, Zywicki eventually prevailed by a narrow margin of less than a second, barely holding off a late charge from the Air Force Academy's Zach Nordahl.
Zywicki's teammates, however, provided enough margin to relegate Air Force to second in the team standings 37-44.
For host school UCCS, it was a stark revelation of the difficulty of running with a lineup peppered with true freshmen. While many of those true freshmen performed very nicely for the Mountain Lions, it's a tough go in the collegiate ranks for teams dominated by athletes just out of high school. UCCS finished 5th of 7 teams on the men's side and 4th of 8 teams on the women's side.