The time is finally here! After patiently waiting for their counterparts in Divisions 1 and 3 to complete their conference weekend, the postseason spotlight will shift to Division 2. With teams vying for conference supremacy this weekend, there are a lot of questions and speculation to be discussed.
The RMAC is probably the most stacked of all the conference championships occurring this weekend. As of right now, five RMAC teams carry a national ranking, more than any other conference. This is one of the few conference meets where a 5th place finish can still be in the hunt for championship qualification.
Another way to look at the RMAC meet is to view it almost as a South Central Regional Championship before the actual race. Seven of the top 10 teams in the South Central reside from this conference, and a whopping four are within the top five (Dallas Baptist breaks the 1-5 sweep, but is followed closely by UC- Colorado Springs in 6th). A strong performance this weekend bodes well for November 17th in Denver.
Adams State looks to be the clear-cut favorite right now. They haven’t raced a full squad since the end of September, but the results that squad has put up have been enough to keep them the number one ranked team throughout the entire season. They demolished Western Colorado 16 to 53 at their home opener on September 8th, and followed that up with an impressive 3rd place finish at the Stanford Invitational. The only two teams they lost to were Stanford and UCLA, both high quality Division 1 opponents.
Sydney Gidabuday and Elias Gedyon have been reliable individual scorers for the Grizzlies, and could very well finish 1-2 on Saturday. A question mark for Damon Martin’s squad however has to be Jackson Sayler. The senior hasn’t raced since the Joe I. Vigil Open at the beginning of the season where he placed 2nd and ran 24:59 at altitude. Although the Grizzlies have proven that they have the depth to win with or without Sayler, the addition of him just adds another weapon that teams have to deal with.
After Adams State, the team battle gets very interesting. Colorado Mines and Western Colorado should have quite a duel, while CSU-Pueblo looks like they could make some noise as well. Colorado Mines only just recently opened up their full squad, handily winning Pre-Nationals with a score of 19 points. In that race, the trio of Grant Colligan, Josh Hoskinson, and Luc Hagen swept the first three spots. Logan Ramlet followed close behind in 5th. With only a 41 second 1-5 gap at Pre-Nationals, it appears the Orediggers’ greatest strength will be their pack.
That pack will be challenged closely by the Mountaineers of Western Colorado, who won the Lewis Crossover meet comfortably a couple of weeks ago. Taylor stack has led the group most of the season. They will need him to place high and hope their 2-5 can close the gap. This was one of the reasons they were so successful at Lewis, as Charlie Sweeney, Evan Sutherland, and Ross Husch finished right next to each other in 14th, 15th, and 16th, respectively. Ricky Esqueda, the 5th man at Lewis, finished in 34th. He could be the deciding factor in the battle for 2nd and 3rd.
I also feel the need to mention CSU-Pueblo, since this conference is just so dang stacked. The Thunderwolves come in right now looking at a solid 4th place finish. Marcelo Laguera, coming off an All-American cross country campaign last year, looks to be a dark horse who could be in contention for an individual title. Derrick Williams is another low stick that could prove to be vital. The only issue is that CSU-Pueblo is in the RMAC. They have faced Western Colorado two times this season, and both times they have come up on the losing end of things. They will need to drastically pick up things in the backend if they are to have a shot of breaking into the top three.
The individual battle this weekend should also be something to look forward to. Currently, there are nine RMAC individuals within the TSR Top 20 rankings. While Gidabuday has been the clear favorite all season, there are others that could also find themselves taking the individual victory. It should be interesting to see how the terrain plays into this.
The course at Stenger Soccer Complex in Arvada, CO is made up of 2k loops around the soccer fields. This should make for a fairly flat race that should give advantage to more track-minded runners, depending on if the ground is soggy or not (which given the weather forecast I will hypothesize to be no).
Regardless of the conditions and course, this Saturday’s matchup will probably be one of the most exciting and competitive of all the conference meets. Spectators and fans should get ready for what should be only a small preview of the RMAC’s true strength.
1. Adams State Grizzlies
2. Colorado Mines Orediggers
3. Western Colorado Mountaineers
4. CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves
1. Sydney Gidabuday (Adams State)
2. Elias Gedyon (Adams State)
3. Marcelo Laguera (CSU-Pueblo)
4. Taylor Stack (Western Colorado)
5. Joshua Joseph (Adams State)