LCSC men and Oribo win Frontier cross country titles
BILLINGS, Mont. – The Lewis-Clark State College men’s cross country team and Jimmy Oribo ran away with titles at the Frontier Conference championships on Friday. The Warrior women came close, but had to settle for second-place as they fell just 11 points short of Carroll College.
For the LCSC men, ranked No. 7 in the final NAIA regular-season poll, the conference title means that they receive an automatic bid to the national championship. This stands as the fifth straight conference title for the men, and it will be the 10th consecutive year that they have competed at nationals.
“The men took the lead immediately,” said LCSC head coach Mike Collins about how the race went. “Great Falls looked really good today, but fortunately we were able to beat that challenge. I was real pleased with how things went on the men’s side.”
The Warriors won the race by a fairly comfortable margin at their top five runners all finished in the top 10. This gave LCSC a final score of 24, while Great Falls finished second with 50, and Rocky Mountain was third at 88.
Marking the fifth consecutive year a Warrior has claimed the conference’s title and Runner of the Year award, Oribo finished the 8-kilometer course in 25:16. He was more than 15 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Cesar Mireles of Rocky Mountain who ran the race in 25:33.
“Jimmy and Sam [Atkin] ran side by side for a while until Jimmy pulled away later in the race,” said Collins. “Obviously, Jimmy is running real well right now.”
Atkin and Cody Glad came in third and fourth, respectively, for the Warriors. Atkin had a time of 25:37, and Glad a mark of 25:42. Cody Larson claimed seventh with a time of 25:45, and Dave Marks, last year’s title winner who has been slowed by an injury this season, took ninth with a time of 25:58.
The national meet will be held in Vancouver, Wash., on Nov. 19, and the Warriors are setting their sights high.
“Oklahoma Christian is easily one of the best teams in the country. If they run well, I’m not sure if anyone can beat them,” said Collins. “But strange things can happen at nationals. It seems like the last few years the breaks have always gone against us, but maybe we can get them to go for us this time. One of our goals is to finish in the top four and bring home a trophy home.”
It will take an at-large berth for the Lewis-Clark State women’s team to advance to nationals. Conventional wisdom would suggest that the Warriors, currently ranked No. 14 in the NAIA, are in a good position to receive such a bid. Last season the team was ranked No. 20 and was granted an at-large berth.
However, there will be one more poll released before the at-large berths are announced. Should the Warriors slip in the polls then their chance of making their 11th straight trip to nationals might be lost.
“With all of the conference meets going on, we don’t have a lot of room to fall,” said Collins. “If there are some upsets then the rankings might move around some, but if all the conferences finish like they’re supposed to finish we should be OK.”
The final NAIA women’s poll will be released on Sunday.
The women had three runners place in the top 10 on Friday but were still unable to close the gap with 10th-ranked Carroll. The Saints finished at 33, while LCSC came in at 44, and Rocky Mountain finished third at 74.
“Second place isn’t what our goal was, but I thought we ran relatively well.”
Carroll’s Rhianna Grossman took the title and the female Runner of the Year honors with a time of 18:33. LCSC’s Sophie Bush and Chelsey Leighton followed in second and third with times of 18:53 and 18:58, respectively. Amanda Palmer finished ninth for the Warriors in 19:24.
“Grossman is a very talented runner and deserved to win,” Collins said. “With this being Sophie’s first year running cross country—give her another year and she’ll win this race.”
Regardless of whether the team receives an at-large bid or not, Bush and Leighton both qualified for nationals based on their individual performances.
The races on Friday were delayed for an hour because of frost on the course.