Chadron State XC Gets Underway In Colorado Springs

The fall 2020 cross country season will proceed this year in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, despite the league-wide cancellation of most other fall sports. The Chadron State College runners have their season debut on Friday at the Colorado Springs Cross Country Open at Cherokee Ridge Golf Club.

“We’re looking at some runners who haven’t competed since February,” said CSC Head Cross Country Coach Luke Karamitros, entering his second season. “With there not being an outdoor season, most of us are really ready to get out there. Some of our student-athletes have said they feel like they’re in the best shape of their lives.”

The season starts and ends in Colorado Springs, where the conference relocated its postseason championship from Golden, just two weeks ago.

The NCAA championships were all canceled, so the Eagles will have only three opportunities to compete this fall. One of those will be the program’s home meet on October 3, and the final race will be the RMAC Championships.

Entering the 2020 season, the team is once again young. Five of the men’s runners and three women are true freshmen, and only two on the women’s roster are seniors.

The women will be led by veterans Madison Watson and Emma Willadsen, both of whom qualified for and competed in the RMAC Indoor Track and Field Championships in late February. Both are seniors who excel academically, and they will have the option to return for an extra season in 2021, thanks to emergency legislation passed by the NCAA over the summer.

Both Watson and Willadsen finished near the center of the RMAC field in 2019. Willadsen’s time of 23:04.2 was good for 62nd of 127 in the highly competitive conference meet. Watson finished 71st in 23:42.3 at RMACs, but improved considerably to lead the team at the NCAA regional.

Sydney Settles is a junior who Coach Karamitros says has greatly improved from last year and is closer to being in the lead pack.

On the men’s side, there are only freshmen and sophomores. Karamitros says they are all pretty even in their strength, but if one is to stand out, it might be third-year runner Jesse Jaramillo, who led the Eagles in their first two races of 2019, but struggled to get back on the course the rest of the season due to injury. Jaramillo is the leading returner from the past two seasons, and he received a medical hardship waiver in order to remain a sophomore in 2020.

Jaramillo’s fellow returners, each of whom had success at various times last year in his stead, are sophomores Garrett Avery, Noah Burtis, and Logan Moravec. Avery led the team at the 2019 NCAA regional.

Friday’s race is a rare evening start. The women will run a one-kilometer grass loop five times, beginning at 5:35 p.m., while the men will run the same loop eight times at 6:10 p.m.

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