3. Colorado School of Mines Orediggers
Coach: Chris Siemers
Notable Departures: Nathanael Williams, Dan Mahoney, Seth Topper
Notable Additions: Luke Julian, Kyle Moran, Dylan Ko
Projected Scoring Five:
Grant Colligan (Jr), Logan Ramlet (So), Ben Schneiderman (Jr),
Josh Hoskinson (Jr), Nick Sevcik (Sr)
The favorites that were upset one year ago at the National Championship return five of their top seven to make another run at history. The Orediggers held first place in the national rankings more than any other team last season. They seemed poised to win the national title after beating Adams State both at the RMAC Championship and the South Central Regional. However, they didn't have enough at NCAA’s as they fell short to Adams State and Grand Valley.
In 2016, the Orediggers proved themselves to be one of the best teams in the country by winning all of their meets beside the National Championship. Their season began with a win at the Colorado College Invitational winning 27 to 33 over CSU Pueblo. They would go on to face CSU Pueblo once more at the Chile Pepper XC Festival in Arkansas. Again, Colorado School of Mines would come out on top. In both of those races, the Orediggers were able to capitalize off of a tight pack of runners. The Orediggers 2nd - 5th men finished 12th, 13th, 15th and 17th at the Chile Pepper XC Festival.
After a strong performance by Adams State, the Orediggers lost their number one national ranking going into the RMAC Championship. Of course, you would not have known that after seeing the results of the RMAC Championship. With five teams ranked in the top 15, the deepest conference in the country was no competition for Colorado Mines who finished 2-3-4-5-6 to score 20 points and defeat Adams State by 24 points. This was the Orediggers first conference title, an accomplishment the 2015 Colorado Mines National Championship team could not complete.
Colorado Mines went on to create more history two weeks later at the South Central Regional Championship where the Orediggers won their first Regional Championship in school history. The storyline during that week was much different than at their conference championship as Colorado Mines and Adams State tied with 36 points. Colorado School of Mines would emerge victorious on a 6th man tiebreaker.
Although the Orediggers were the favorites going into the National Championships, Adams State had a different idea. Just as CSM had done in 2015, losing the RMAC and South Central Championships but later winning the 2016 national title, Adams State did the same.
The Grizzlies walked away with a National Championship win despite Colorado Mines placing all seven runners inside the top 50 team scoring positions and showing great depth. That was probably not how the Orediggers imagined their season ending...
This fall, the Orediggers return five of their top seven from their 2016 National Championship team. Four of these runners were on the team when they won the title in 2015. That experience could be the difference between 3rd and 1st place this year.
However, the Orediggers do lose their leader in Nathanael Williams as well as Dan Mahoney who were both scoring members of their team throughout last season. Williams finished first for the Orediggers at every meet except the National Championship, a meet where Logan Ramlet was the first Oredigger to cross the line. This passing of the torch could be the first of many times we see the name Logan Ramlet this year
The future of this program looks to be in good hands with a strong recruiting class that includes guys like Luke Julian, Kyle Moran, and Dylan Ko. Julian won five state titles in xc and track in South Dakota. Moran and Ko are both joining the team from Colorado with All-State Cross Country honors to their names.
The only weakness that this Colorado Mines program has is their track results. Without many recorded performances, it’s hard to gauge the fitness of the program. This past spring, most Mines distance athletes only raced once at the Mines last chance meet. There, the returning athletes ran 31:21, 31:30, 32:01, 32:08 over 10,000m before altitude conversion. The conversion brings these times down 70+ seconds to create some fast times. Still, only racing once still leaves many questions unanswered.
The Orediggers will look to answer these questions on September 9th at the Colorado College Invitational. The depth of this program makes them a favorite to win their second national title in the last three years.