LCSC men's cross country team reaches new heights
The Lewis-Clark State College men’s cross country team reached new program heights on Wednesday by jumping three spots in this week’s NAIA Top 25 poll to No. 4.
The ranking is the highest ever for either the LCSC men’s or women’s cross country programs. The women, who were ranked No. 13 last week, fell two spots to No. 15 despite being idle last week.
“It is exciting to see the men reach a mark in the rankings that we have never seen before,” LCSC coach Mike Collins says. “As a coach it makes you a little nervous. Questions abound as to whether or not we are really that good, can we stay injury free, etc… We will hopefully use it to our benefit knowing that the target on our back keeps getting bigger and more teams are shooting for it. “
In the men’s poll, Malone of Ohio garnered all seven first-place votes for a 210 point total, while Aquinas of Michigan is second at 202. Aquinas will join LCSC in the Willamette Invitational in Salem, Ore., on Sept. 29.
Azusa Pacific stands third at 197, while LCSC is at 185, and Cornerstone of Michigan is at 184.
“Our goals at the beginning of the season were to do our best to try and win regionals, then finish in the Top 10 at nationals,” Collins says. “I don’t think that has changed. Regionals are priority one, and then we will see what happens at nationals. I believe that we have the talent to be a top four team. We will need to race well and have a little luck for us to see the podium in November. There is a lot of racing between now and then.”
The Warrior men don’t race again until the Willamette Invitational, which will also feature a number of NCAA Division II and III schools.
“This race is as close to nationals as we can get when it comes to the intensity level and the level of competition,” Collins says.
On the women’s side, Simon Fraser holds down the top spot, while Azusa Pacific and Milligan of Tennessee are tied for second. University of British Columbia, another Region I team, is ranked No. 9.
“I am actually a little surprised that we did not drop more than two spots this week,” Collins says. “We haven’t raced for two weeks and a lot of other teams have. Typically, when you don’t race you go backwards in the polls, which we are doing, but fortunately not very quickly at this point. We hope to begin moving back into a positive direction this weekend.”
The Warrior women compete in the Bob Firman Invitational in Eagle on Saturday. The meet features NCAA and NAIA schools, including No. 21-ranked Albertson.
“We are a little dinged up right now with some injuries and illness, but I have a tough group, so we should be OK,” Collins says. “Like the men, our main focus right now is Willamette. This weekend will hopefully help us to get our race faces back on and have us mentally prepared to race the following week.”