They might have disguised it well, but you clearly could see the motivation was there Saturday for the Lewis-Clark State College cross country teams.
They just showed it after the Inland Empire Championships were completed.
The only home meet of the season served as a statement of sorts, with the men’s team almost lapping Frontier Conference nemesis Rocky Mountain in an event that served as a precursor to the league meet Nov. 8. The Warriors, ranked No. 9 in the latest NAIA poll, placed three runners in the top 17 overall. The first runner who crossed the finish line for the No. 22 Battlin’ Bears, who will host the FC meet, placed 30th.
Yeah, the confidence with these guys is sky-high now.
“It is through the roof,” said junior Clayton VanDyke, who finished 17th in 24:23. “Honestly, when we saw those times, it blew us away. That was not what we were expecting and not the pace we thought (it would be).”
LCSC’s big three — all juniors — of Cole Olsen, Chase Barrow and VanDyke set season personal-bests on the course that sits right next to the new Lewiston High School. Olsen finished fifth in 23:42 and Barrow took ninth in 24:05.
Those three set the tone for what turned out to be a banner day for the men. As a team, the Warriors placed third with 97 points. Calgary, which had the top four runners overall, easily took first with 21 points. Idaho ran extremely well and was second with 55. Rocky Mountain placed sixth at 161.
“It’s nice because we get to train on this course,” Olsen said. “It is nice to go in and know where the turns are and how to take them, but overall we knew this was going to be a fast course and we are super happy with how we did.”
Coach Mike Collins said it wasn’t the plan to go into this race and deliver a knockout blow to the Battlin’ Bears, especially with the FC meet upcoming as well as the national championships Nov. 22 in Vancouver, Wash., still to come. However, he couldn’t help but feel a bit giddy about how his men performed.
“I know my guys pressed early, and maybe a little bit too much, but they made the race fast,” Collins said. “And then Calgary and a few others forced the pace at that point. But man, we really ran some incredibly fast times today. I’m not really concerned about the rankings, but this is a nice piece of encouragement.”
The Vandals’ top finisher was Dwain Stucker, who came in right behind Olsen in sixth place in a time of 23:46.
The LCSC women were a little shorthanded because of injuries, but still had an admirable showing by finishing sixth as a team with 152 points. Idaho, who had the top three scoring finishers, took first with 19 points. Gonzaga was second with 62 points. Rocky Mountain placed fourth with 137 points.
Emily Adams was the first woman across the line for the Warriors, taking 17th place in a season PR on a 5K course of 18:02.
“The course was pretty fast and it was a great day for personal records,” said Rylee Brown, who took 32nd in 18:38, a career best for a 5K and 13 seconds faster than she ran in this event a year ago. “The weather conditions were perfect, sunny and 50 with minimal wind. I felt that we all just packed up well today and encouraged each other. Obviously with this being our home course we have the advantage to know how to turn on those hairpin turns.”
Despite missing a pair of runners, Collins clearly was happy that the women’s team, who is ranked No. 13 in the country, stayed with it and didn’t let down.
“I think it’s pretty encouraging, knowing that, ‘OK, we ran actually really really well as a team despite not having them out there.’ They’re going to be motivated to get back into it.”
Kelsey Swenson was the top finisher for the Vandals, second overall, with a time of 17:27.
With no races between now and the FC championships, which is in 26 days, LCSC will try to keep that momentum during their down time.
But there’s no question, if the Warriors keep racing like this for six more weeks, they’ll have achieved their goals for the season.
“I think the biggest thing is confidence for us, because we haven’t had our best races yet until now,” Olsen said. “I think this has improved our morale, like 10-fold.”
Team scores — Calgary 21, Idaho 55, Lewis-Clark State 97, Gonzaga 99, Southern Idaho 145, Rocky Mountain 161, Eastern Oregon 166, MSU-Northern 240.
Indvidiual champion — Alex James (Calgary), 23:29.
Idaho individuals — 6. Dwain Stucker, 23:46; 11. Ben Shaw, 24:15; 13. Drew Schultz, 24:18; 14. Tim Stevens, 24:20; 15. Ryan Kline, 24:20; 19. Grayson Ollar, 24:28; 21. Gabriel Daniel, 24:31; 22. Michael McCausland, 24:32; 23. Caleb Seely, 24:39; 27. Fabian Cardenas, 24:42; 33. Josiah Anderson, 24:52; 40. Timo Dohm, 25:08.
LCSC individuals — 5. Cole Olsen, 23:42; 9. Chase Barrow, 24:05; 17. Clayton VanDyke, 24:23; 41. Connor Turpin, 25:09; 47. Dillon Dawson, 25:25; 61. Colton Smith, 25:55; 64. Josh Lay, 26:06; 65. Layton Ahlers, 26:08; 85. Peter Spencer, 27:56; 94. James Magill, 29:06.
Team scores — Idaho 19, Gonzaga 62, Calgary 76, Rocky Mountain 137, Southern Idaho 143, Lewis-Clark State 152, Spokane CC 187, MSU-Northern 215.
Individual champion — Aimee Piercy (Unattached), 17:20.
Idaho individuals — 2. Kelsey Swenson, 17:27; 3. Nathalia Campos, 17:29; 4. Malaina Thacker, 17:29; 7. Kara Story, 17:44; 8. Krista Story, 17:47; 13. Faith Dilmore, 17:53; 21. Maizy Brewer, 18:13; 30. Elise Abbott, 18:35; 31. Nell Baker, 18:38; 41. Makenna Schuler, 19:06.
LCSC individuals — 17. Emily Adams, 18:02; 32. Rylee Brown, 18:38; 46. Maja Plaznik, 19:19; 50. Evelin Lopez, 19.22; 60. Kelsey Henry, 19:48; 64. Ciera Bailey, 20:01; 69. Abigail Peightal, 20.33; 73. Miriam Ames, 20:42; 74. Molly Stephenson, 20:46; 75. Jamey Weishaar, 20:54.
Check out videos from the event at the links below:
Walden may be reached at (208) 848-2258, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @waldo9939.