By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Adams State turned in two record-setting performances on Saturday at the NCAA Division II cross country championships at the Missouri Southern course.
First the Grizzlies ran away from the field and captured a record ninth men’s team championship. With five runners among the top 15, Adams State totaled just 34 points, and their 68-point margin over runner-up Colorado Mines was the widest margin since Western State won by 68 points in 1999, also at Missouri Southern.
And, by the way, the Grizzlies’ sixth and seventh runners finished among the top 28.
“We’ve been No. 1 all year, and to be ranked that way and to come and do the job when the pressure is on, I’m really proud of them,” Grizzlies coach Damon Martin said.
Micah Chelimo of Alaska Anchorage won the men’s 10K race in 28 minutes, 56 seconds, and three Grizzlies followed him across the finish line — sophomores Kevin Batt, Tabor Stevens and Matthew Daniels. Senior David Sanchez was 12th and sophomore John Luterbach was 15th as only 45 seconds separated pack of Grizzlies.
“We knew that we could run pretty close together,” Martin said. “We’ve had a good pack time all year. It’s important what you do at the end of the year. We wanted to have the same kind of goal, run close together and pack it up. Those guys did a tremendous job of doing that.”
Chelimo, a senior who finished 15th a year ago, executed his plan to stay in touch with the lead pack.
“Whenever somebody tries to kick, stay with them,” said Chelimo, who took the lead during the last mile. “That’s when I decided to find out how everyone was. The last mile, at that point everybody is tired. So it’s a matter of mental toughness.”
Chelimo, a native of Kenya, joined a small pack of runners to break the 29-minute mark on the MSSU layout.
“That’s an Olympic time,” Missouri Southern coach Tom Rutledge said. “That guy is good. He was a man running against boys.”
Chelimo led the Seawolves to a third-place finish in the team standings with 148, and Augustana won the final trophy spot with 182, one point ahead of Chico State.
Alicia Nelson of Adams State then won the women’s 6K in a record time of 20:03, six seconds faster than the former mark set by Esther Komen of Western State in 2006.
“I didn’t start off the way I wanted to, but slowly and surely I was getting closer and working my way up,” said Nelson, who was national runner-up last year. “I got the lead probably with 800 to go. I was kicking and they were slowing down.
“In the beginning (the pack) was a little farther ahead than I wanted. But in the middle it was exactly where I wanted it to be. It really worked. I followed coach’s plan ... try to be patient and then just give it everything I had.”
Susan Tanui of Alaska Anchorage led much of the race and wound up second in 20:12. Katie Spratford of Shippensburg and Jessica Janecke of Grand Valley State were next, 10 seconds back.
The team race was closer than the individual race as 2010 champion Grand Valley State edged defending champion Augustana 101-104 for championship honors. Adams State finished third with 109, and Western State ws fourth with 172.
“The five who have been getting it done all year got it done,” Grand Valley State coach Jerry Baltes said. “We’ve had an incredible last two weeks. We’ve had an appendix out, we’ve had kids sick. One of our girls ran her first race of the year today, one of our girls didn’t race at the regional.
“These ladies believed all year. They believed in themselves, they believed in the program, and that’s what got us here.”