Adams State’s Braun, Martin Take Home Division II Cross Country Regional Awards

By Keith Nunez, USTFCCCA

November 18, 2008   

NEW ORLEANS – Aaron Braun and Damon Martin are two of the leading reasons why Adams State is ranked first in the country among Division II men’s cross country teams.
Braun is the top runner on the nation’s top-ranked team, and Martin is the coach who masterminds the program’s success. It comes as no surprise that they are among the 16 recipients of the NCAA Division II Regional Athlete and Coach of the Year honors for the 2008 season.

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced the regional award-winners today. The USTFCCCA names the Division II athletes and coaches of the year for eight regions.

Braun won individual honors at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and Central Region Championships this fall, leading the Grizzlies to team championships in both meets.

Martin, a coaching fixture at Adams State since 1988, will be shooting for his third NCAA men’s title when the Grizzlies compete at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships on Nov. 22 in Slippery Rock, Pa.

At last year’s NCAA Championships, Braun finished second in the individual race behind Abilene Christian’s Nicodemus Naimadu, the most decorated runner in Division II history. Adams State finished second in the team standings to Abilene Christian.

This year’s regional honorees for the 2008 men’s cross country season:


Men’s Athlete: Chris Clark, California University of Pennsylvania
Clark set a course record in winning the Atlantic Region title in 31 minutes, finishing 23 seconds ahead of the field. He also won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference individual title and was first in the Carnegie Mellon University Invitational. Clark is a graduate student from Hadley, Pa.

Men’s Coach: Aaron Russell, Lock Haven University
Lock Haven’s men upset Edinboro to win the East Region Championships by a 51-71 margin. The Bald Eagles earlier placed third at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championships behind Edinboro and Slippery Rock. Russell has guided Lock Haven to four of the last five East Region men’s titles. He is in his seventh season as head coach at his alma mater.


Men’s Athlete: Aaron Braun, Adams State College
Braun led the top-ranked Grizzles to team titles at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and Central Region meets by finishing as the first individual in both races. The junior from Fort Collins won the regional championship by 12 seconds over teammate Brian Medogovich. Braun finished second at last year’s NCAA Cross Country Championships and won the 1,500 meters at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Men’s Coach: Damon Martin, Adams State College
Martin’s top-ranked Grizzlies are undefeated entering the NCAA Championships following their third Central Region title in the last four years. Adams State placed four men in the top 10 and seven in the top 15 at regionals. Martin has won two NCAA men’s cross country titles and 12 women’s championships during his illustrious career at Adams State.


Men’s Athlete: Ruben Sanca, University of Massachusetts-Lowell
Sanca raced to first-place finishes at the Northeast-10 Conference and East Region championship meets. The senior from Boston won the regional title by more than 30 seconds, clocking 30:30.6 for 10,000 meters. Sanca finished 24th at last year’s NCAA Cross Country Championships and also earned All-America honors in indoor track.

Men’s Coach: Gary Gardner, University of Massachusetts at Lowell
In his seventh season as UMass-Lowell’s cross country and track coach, Gardner guided the River Hawks to team championships at the Northeast-10 Conference and East Region meets. His men won the East Regional by 11 points, paced by individual champion Ruben Sanca. Gardner ran collegiately at Keene State in the early 1990s.


Men’s Athlete: Chris Hammer, Grand Valley State University
Hammer swept top honors at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Midwest Region Championships. His victory at the regional meet led Grand Valley State to its seventh straight Midwest title. Hammer, a senior from Troy, Mich., placed sixth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at last spring’s NCAA Outdoor Track Championships.

Men’s Coach: Jerry Baltes, Grand Valley State University
Baltes guided the Lakers to their seventh straight men’s championship at the Midwest Region meet. Grand Valley State earlier won its seventh straight Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship. In nine years as the men’s and women’s track and cross country coach at Grand Valley State, Baltes has won 44 out of 50 possible GLIAC men’s and women’s titles in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.


Men’s Athlete: Daniel Kirwa, Harding University
Kirwa is undefeated this fall in seven races, the most recent victory coming at the South Region Championships. He is expected to be one of the top contenders at the upcoming NCAA Championships. Kirwa, the reigning NCAA track champion in the 10,000 meters, is a freshman from Burnt Forrest, Kenya.

Men’s Coach: Steve Guymon, Harding University
The Bison scored a perfect score of 15 points in winning their seventh South Region title in the last eight years. In his six seasons as head coach at Harding, Guymon has won six Gulf South Conference and six South Region men’s titles. Guymon’s male and female athletes have earned 20 All-America honors in cross country.


Men’s Athlete: Julius Nyango, Abilene Christian University
Nyango led Abilene Christian to a 1-2-3-4 finish at the South Regional, the Wildcats’ eighth title in the last nine years. Nyango placed third to help Abilene Christian win the 2007 NCAA Cross Country team championship and will be one of the individual favorites in Slippery Rock. He won the 800 meters at last spring’s NCAA Outdoor Track Championships. Nyango is a senior from Aldai, Kenya.

Men’s Coach: Sam Burroughs, Abilene Christian University
In his first season as Abilene Christian’s cross country coach, Burroughs guided the second-ranked Wildcats to victories at the Lone Star Conference and South Central Region Championships. Burroughs came to Abilene from Iona, where he was an assistant coach at one of the top Division I cross country programs in the country.


Men’s Athlete: Oscar Ogwaro, Queens University of Charlotte
Ogwaro took an early lead en route to an 11-second win at the Southeast Regional in Charlotte. Ogwaro, a junior from Los Angeles, also won the Covered Bridge Invitational in September.

Men’s Coach: Scott Simmons, Queens University of Charlotte
The seventh-ranked Royals will try to improve on last year’s 15th-place finish when they compete in the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Simmons guided Queens an overwhelming win at the Southeast Regional meet. He directed Virginia Intermont to three successive NAIA men’s titles prior to becoming the head coach at Queens in 2007.


Men’s Athlete: Scott Bauhs, California State University Chico
A two-time NCAA champion in outdoor track, Bauhs won his first regional cross country title with a nine-second victory at the West Region Championships in La Jolla. Last spring, Bauhs ran the fastest-ever 10,000 meters by a Division II athlete, clocking 27:48.06 to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials. He is a senior from Danville, Ca.

Men’s Coach: Gary Towne, California State University Chico
The fourth-ranked Wildcats enter the NCAA Championships with a head of steam, having raced to solid victories at the California Collegiate Athletic Association and West Region Championships. Towne’s teams have won seven straight CCAA and West Region titles. This is his 13th season as Chico State’s head cross country coach.