LAS VEGAS, N.M. — If nothing else, coach Joel McMullen says, the Eastern New Mexico University men’s cross country team is showing it’s not an easy touch for strong opponents running at less than full strength.
The Greyhounds edged defending NCAA Division II runnerup Adams State 43-44 on Saturday for the team championship in New Mexico Highlands’ Cross Country Jam. The Grizzlies, currently ranked No. 1 in Division II, rested three of their top five runners in preparation for a major meet this weekend.
Still, McMullen was pleased with his team’s overall performance.
“You’ve got to be a little bit surprised to beat Adams State,” McMullen said. “When you’ve got a squad like that, you’ve got to expect to win no matter who you send.
“We were very proud and happy. Everyone’s finding out that we’re for real.”
Sophomore Jason Garcia finished sixth in the 8K race in 26 minutes, 14 seconds to lead the Hounds, who also beat a somewhat watered down New Mexico squad the previous week in a meet hosted by New Mexico State. Five ENMU runners finished in the top 15.
ENMU’s women placed third out of six teams with 90 points. Defending Division II women’s national champion Adams State cruised to that team title with 20 points.
Sophomore Joyce Doan led the Zias with a 14th-place finish in the 5K event in 20:09. Teammate Stacy Salazar was next, five seconds behind her.
McMullen said everyone for both the Hounds and Zias posted a personal-best time on a fast course, some by about two minutes.