For the first time ever, Fort Lewis College will send both a men’s and women’s team to the NCAA Division II National Championship meet in the same season. It marks the first time in ten years a men’s team from Fort Lewis has qualified. The men's team punched its ticket by running to a sixth-place finish at the South Central Regional, an improvement from last season's 11th place finish. The FLC women solidified their spot by running to a ninth-place finish at regionals. By Connor Shreve. This story is sponsored by Serious Texas BBQ and Kroegers Ace Hardware
The Fort Lewis College Cross-Country Team is getting ready to put the punctuation mark on its best season ever. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Serious Texas Bar-B-Q and Kroeger's Ace Hardware. I'm Connor Shreve. For the first time, FLC is sending a full men's and women's team to Nationals. First year head coach, Shawn Jakubowski, credits his runners for buying in.
We sat down and we came up with team goals early and their goal was to get to Nationals. And you know, I'm usually pretty realistic with them and be like, okay, that's a good goal. Or like, ah, you know, but I knew this was a team that could hit that goal. And I knew this was a team that had the potential to get to Nationals and we held each other very accountable all season long. And they worked really, really hard in the summertime and...
In a field of 34 teams, Jakubowski believes the FLC women can run to a top 20 finish. He wants the men to target a top 15 finish.
The way we run it is we don't have like a number one that's going to finish in the top five at Nationals or Top 10, right? Like what we have is a group of seven guys that can all finish within 30 seconds of each other and, you know, pretty high, but not like, you know, top 10 or anything. And because of that, that's where we beat a lot of teams.
Qualifying for Nationals is no small feat. As the Skyhawks run in the strongest region in division two. Assistant coach, Will Schenk, says the payoff was sweet.
Getting to see women, like when the regional bids came out and they actually did qualify. It was really amazing. And then going into Shawn's office and seeing a couple of the young, you know, team members that were there, just like crying and screaming and also, you know, just being so happy 'cause they couldn't believe it either. Like, that was really a lot of joy that was brought. So it was really cool
Though the Skyhawks are proud of the accomplishment, Jakubowski and his staff have no intention of making it an outlier. Continuing to build the program relies on recruiting. And Schenk says having both teams qualify for Nationals makes an impact on recruits.
You can come here and be the start of, you know, a National Qualifying Program every single year. You know, like that's what we're looking for. We need you to completely buy-in from like day one that you step down, you know, if you're ready for that like we want you on the team and a lot of the recruits that we're looking at, you know, want to be a part of that and...
The Skyhawks have been training with Nationals in mind. So Jakubowski says, celebrating the selection won't get in the way of performing in the season finale.
You know, we want to enjoy the experience, but again, we want to go there and handle business and show people that, you know, we're a rising team and that, you know, this is the first and moving forward, the goal's not going to be to make Nationals, the goal's going to be to... The expectation's going to be to make Nationals and the goal's going to be like how high are we going to finish this year?
The Skyhawks will be joined at Nationals by seven of their Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference mates on the men's side and six other RMAC teams on the women's side. The NCAA Division Two National Championship will be held Saturday, November 18th in Joplin, Missouri. You can watch the race beginning at 9:00 AM on the NCAA website. For more information about this and other stories, visit durangolocal.news. Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Connor Shreve.