In 2012, the Adams State men's cross country team dominated the NCAA DII cross country championships with just 34 points. The Grizzlies decimated the field by placing their five scorers in the top 15, which resulted in a preposterous 68-point margin of victory, matching the largest gap between first and second place since 1999.
When measured by modern standards, the accomplishment seems like it could stand for a long, long time. But that could change in 2017.
Top-ranked Adams State once again appears to have the firepower to put seven men inside the top 30 at NCAAs. With five returning All-Americans and two stud transfers, this version of the ASU juggernaut could be the program's most complete team yet.
The 2012 team was, of course, the Grizzlies' ninth NCAA cross country title, and the program had already recorded a perfect 15-point performance in 1992 that set the standard for dominance in the sport. Adams State crushing their competition had become more than routine by the time 2012 rolled around, so even a pummeling of such proportions didn't seem to be extraordinary relative to the norm. But a little context showed that this was not the case.
Even by Adams State's lofty standards, 2012 was something spectacular. The Grizzlies' seventh man crossed the line in 28th, marking the first time since 2009 that an entire squad placed in the top 30. Top to bottom, ASU had proven themselves to be among the all-time great DII teams, doing so in a year that the NCAA field had expanded from 24 to 32 teams and added 58 athletes from the season prior. The 1992 team may have tallied a perfect score and seven men in the top 30, but the feat came against a field with only 17 teams and 131 runners.
Let's compare this year's group with the 2012 team, using previous performances to measure the current Grizzlies against their predecessors:
|2012 Team||2012 Finish||Pre-NCAA 2012 Resume|
|Kevin Batt||2||14:04 5K; 1st at South Central Region '12|
|Tabor Stevens||3||14:08 5K; 6th NCAA XC '11|
|Matthew Daniels||4||13:59 5K; 4th at South Central Region '12|
|David Sanchez||12||14:11 5K; 6th at South Central Region '12|
|John Luterbach||15||8:51 3K; 12th at South Central Region '12|
|Andrew Roberts||25||14:30 5K; 10th at South Central Region '12|
|Jovanny Godinez||28||14:31 5K; 5th at South Central Region '12|
|2017 Team||2016 Finish||Pre-NCAA 2017 Resume|
|Sydney Gidabuday||4||13:36 5K; 1st at South Central Region '16|
|Lucio Ramirez||9||14:39 5K; 8th at South Central Region '16|
|Kale Adams||17||8:05 3K, 6th at Paul Short '17|
|Chandler Reid||29||14:06 5K; 6th at South Central Region '16|
|Joshua Joseph||37||14:15 5K; 25th at Paul Short '17|
|Elias Gedyon||NA||4:02 mile; 13th at Paul Short '17|
|Dalton Graham||NA||14:44 5K; 30:24 10K|
We'll know a lot more about this Grizzlies team after the South Central regional, annually the most competitive meet of its type in DII. When the 2012 team scored just 26 points at regionals without Tabor Stevens, dominance at NCAAs was clearly on its way.
The 2017 squad has yet to see No. 1 man Sydney Gidabuday make his debut, seemingly due to injury, and neither Elias Gedyon nor Dalton Graham has competed at NCAAs before. This team isn't without question marks, and both Grand Valley State and Colorado School of Mines will certainly be tough foes in November.
Given the resemblance that ASU shares with its forefathers, and the experience of their projected scorers, it's likely that an opposing team will need five All-Americans to challenge the Grizzlies, but no squad other than Adams State brought back more than two top-40 finishers from 2016. And even if a challenger can pull off five All-Americans, Adams State has the depth to take the punch.
With such a complete team, the real challenge may be battling history.