Written by Quenten Lasseter + John Cusick
Battle of the National Champions
The women’s 800 could possibly be the most exciting event of this conference championship meet with two defending indoor national champions going head to head. Heat one of the three prelims will feature the reigning indoor mile champion Stephanie Cotter of Adams State. Cotter has only raced the 800 twice this season and just recently clocked a time of 2:13.34 at the Beach Invitational. We know Cotter as a miler, but with her PR of 2:09.49, she should not be overlooked.
The reigning indoor 800 national champion Skylyn Webb of UC-Colorado Springs will be competing in heat three for the 800 prelims. Webb had a fantastic outing at the Mt SAC Relays, running the #2 fastest time in the NCAA with a 2:04.70.
Both national champions are expected to make it out of the preliminaries and into the finals, where we will see the two powerhouse stars battle it out.
Where are the Adams Elite?
The defending 3000 and 5000 indoor national champions Elias Gedyon and Sydney Gidabuday of Adams State will be racing at Payton Jordan this weekend instead of the RMAC Outdoor Championships. The two teammates will be chasing fast times as they gear up to defend and back up their titles at the outdoor national championships.
Along with Gidabuday and Gedyon, both Flanagan sisters are opting to attend the Payton Jordan Invitational instead of heading to South Dakota for their conference meet. This isn’t an unprecedented move from Grizzlies, but it does seem somewhat odd that, with their current marks, they’d opt out.
The Colorado Mines Duo
Luke Julian and Josh Evans of Colorado Mines will look to score major points in the 1500 this weekend. With the two teammates separated in different heats, it will be much easier for both Julian and Evans to advance to the finals. Julian currently has the NCAA’s #2 fastest time this year, running an automatic time of 3:42.98 which was converted at the Colorado Invitational. Evans is not too far off, owning the #5 fastest time in the NCAA with a provisional time of 3:44.94 at his home meet (the Mines Kit Mayer Invite).
The Colorado Mines duo has the fastest seed times entering the event this weekend and if all goes the Orediggers way, big points will be produced by Julian and Evans (and maybe 1-2 finish).
Four Woman Battle for the 1500 Title
With both of the Flanagan sisters opting for the Payton Jordan Invitational in a few weeks, we only have three names that should be in consideration for taking home the title at 1500 meters.
Alicja Konieczek (Western Colorado) comes in with the fastest seed time of 4:22 that she ran at the Colorado Invitational earlier this season. Her name holds weight as she holds the D2 record for the steeplechase and was the mile champion indoors last season.
Skylyn Webb is doubling up this weekend and is always a threat when it comes to championship racing. Her seed time of 4:24 comes from the Colorado Invitational earlier this month. The slower the pace for Webb, the better it is for her tactically speaking. She has a strong enough kick to run down anyone in this event. I’m sure that’s how she will want it to be played out as she’ll be looking to save her legs for the 800 later on.
Chloe Cook of Colorado Mines enters the meet with a seed time of 4:24 (converted from her time at Mines Nature’s Bakery Invite) and is likely the biggest competition to the Mountaineer. She set a personal best of 4:28 at the Stanford Invitational a few weeks ago and will be looking for an upset in what is considered her main event. Teammate Kara Burton enters the meet with the last seed time under 4:30. Her 4:28 came from the Mike Fanelli Classic almost a month ago.
The favorite here is clearly Konieczek if she is in her best form. She’s a savvy racer and is looking to secure 10 points for the women’s team here. You’ll likely see Webb try and slow the race down, but it’ll be interesting to see if she has the strength to keep up with fast pace from the gun. The Oredigger women are strong runners, but have never run faster than 4:28 before so they’ll need a big performance.
Devundrick Walker Chases First Conference Title
Devundrick Walker of CSU-Pueblo is no stranger to the RMAC Outdoor Championships in the 800. The multiple time All-American Walker has finished 2nd in 2015, 3rd in 2016, and 3rd in 2018, during his career at CSU-Pueblo in the event. With teammate, reigning national champion, and DII 800 record holder Thomas Staines not entered in the 800, this is a clear opportunity for Walker to get his first ever outdoor conference championship title. Walker has a season’s best of 1:49.47 at the Bryan Clay Invitational, which puts at #4 him on the NCAA leaderboard.
Chasing down Walker should be Western Colorado’s Juman Randall. The JUCO transfer was the indoor conference champion at this distance. He comes in with the #13 fastest time in the country with the potential to run even faster in the right race.
This will likely be a two-man race on Sunday.
Josh Hoskinson is Back for Redemption
Last year at the 2018 RMAC Outdoor Championships, Josh Hoskinson of Colorado Mines finished 4th overall in the 5000. This year, Hoskinson will look to make things much different. The All-American posted a PR of 14:04.33 at the Bryan Clay Invitational, giving him the #4 fastest time in the NCAA. With EIias Gedyon of Adams State out of the mix, Hoskinson has the fastest time in the 5000 entering the conference meet and will have a chance at redemption.
3k Steeple National Championship Preview
It should come as no surprise for folks who follow along with the RMAC, but we have four of the top 18 marks in the steeplechase set to toe the line this weekend. Jake Mitchem of Colorado Mines (8:56), Taylor Stack of Western Colorado (8:56), Jonah Theisen of Black Hills State (9:00), and Kale Adams of Adams State (9:06) will all toe the line this weekend for the title of RMAC champion.
Mitchem comes in as the reigning champion in the RMAC where he ran 9:18 and a seven second victory. Stack was the 3rd place finisher while Theisen was right behind him in 4th place. Adams wasn’t at the meet last year, but was 2nd in 2017.
All of these athletes are certainly familiar with each other and this should be one of the best races of the weekend. I think we will see something familiar to last year’s race that was won in 9:18. No one wants to take this race out hard given the circumstances of being the pacesetter. Look for a mad dash the last 800 to 1000 meters.
Regardless, you’ll likely see all four of these guys again in a month on the nation's biggest stage.