Editors’ note: Brianna Robles is a senior communications major who has been documenting her journey with the Adams State Women’s Cross Country team in 2021. She is part of the Rural Journalism Institute of the San Luis Valley, a non-profit established by Alamosa Citizen to foster the development of writers and other content creators like Brianna. This Saturday Adams State competes in the NCAA DII Cross Country Championships in Florida and is considered the favorite to capture the women’s title. To learn more about the Rural Journalism Institute go here.
Adams State women’s cross country team are favorites to capture NCAA title in Florida on Saturday; Grizzlies’ men’s team also in contention
By Brianna Robles | for Alamosa Citizen
ONCE you reach the top, the hardest part is staying there.
I have felt through these past couple of weeks that there is a fine line that separates those who doubt us and those who continue to believe that we have so much more to bring to the table. This underestimation is something that has fueled us. It has motivated us to keep working hard to try to stay on top.
Some view the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Saturday as being the final show of the season, but for us it is only the beginning. Through these past weeks the Adams State Women’s Cross Country team has built up the momentum for nationals as we came off a conference win and continued to keep the streak going, earning another NCAA regional title. The women’s team has now won multiple consecutive regional titles, but what we are looking forward to claiming is the NCAA national title.
We have shown the world around us that we are capable of achieving greatness after winning the conference and regional titles. But greatness doesn’t stop there. As we continue to move forward everything else around us is at a standstill. We are the center of attention, as a target has been drawn on our backs.
Everyone around us wants to see if we will rise to the occasion. But what those around us fail to understand is that even though there is all this commotion going on around us, we tend to not let that be a distraction. The only thing we are exclusively focused on is being prepared to bleed green—and give it out all when the gun goes off on Saturday.
The Adams State Women’s Cross Country team will put seven women on the line in Tampa, Florida, and many of them will be absorbing a whole new experience, as some have never competed at a national cross country meet.
Precious Robinson is one of the newest additions to the team after she transferred to Adams State this fall. Precious gave her own take on going to nationals.
The only thing we are exclusively focused on is being prepared to bleed green—and give it our all when the gun goes off on Saturday.
“I’m excited to be going to nationals with the Adams State crew. I want to contribute and be a part of great running history, and I feel like this is a great opportunity,” she said.
THIS opportunity to compete at nationals has come from all the hardships and determination that started since the beginning of the season, and now the training has begun to amplify as nationals approach.
Even as the women’s team has been placed on a pedestal, by being ranked No. 1 throughout the course of the season, the Adams State men’s team should not be underestimated. The men’s team has shifted through rankings throughout the season, but even as they are ranked No. 2 in the nation approaching nationals, these men are ready to elevate themselves on race day.
The men’s team took second at both the conference and regional meet, but as they move forward toward nationals, they continue to stay determined to work their way up to the top.
“The team is ready, I believe,” said senior runner Carson Bix. “They’ve definitely stepped up their mentality and fitness, and I’m excited to toe the line with all of them.”
I believe the mental aspect upon approaching nationals will be the main ingredient that will make or break the outcome of the race.
Isaiah Mikah Paiz, a sophomore runner from Las Vegas, N.M., said, “I have been mentally preparing by knowing that I have been training well and knowing that all the hard work that I’ve been putting in will pay off.”
I often think at times our mentality about the race can be our biggest downfall, which is why going into championship season we try not to dwell too much on the race itself. I think we’ve mastered embracing our confidence, as we’ve learned to view things from the perspective that we have already overcome the hardest part, which is all the training leading up to the race.
Even though we can’t fully control what will happen in the race, we’ve learned to control the things we can control, which is having the best mindset going into competition day.
THE pressure follows us everywhere we go, as the pressure to stay on top still very much exists. Often people don’t put it into perspective and consider the fact that we have so much potential to do something magical, but until it is done, we have those who would like to see us fall.
The last time Adams State men and women spiked up on a national course was in 2019, which was an excellent year for both teams. The women’s team won the national title and the men were runner-ups.
Now putting that into perspective, the world is watching, scooting closer to the edge of their seats, waiting to see if the new faces of Adams State can live up to the hype and bring home another national championship.
“Considering we are only graduating two of the top 7 this year I believe, if we can show up on race day it will be very beneficial for the team in the future,” said Bix.
Even with this pressure building up around us, it is beyond the least of our worries. As we continue to be in the spotlight, we know the best thing for us to-do is trust the process.
“I feel both confident and nervous going into nationals,” said Morgan Hykes, a sophomore from Windsor, Colo., on the women’s team. “I know we’ve put in all the work to succeed, but I also have really big goals for myself and the team.”
In reality there is no way to avoid the nerves; we get nervous because we care. The only thing we can do is do what we’ve been doing, and understand that this is the moment we have prepared for the whole season.
The temperatures that await us in Tampa, Fla., are beyond different from the training conditions we experience in Alamosa. Something we have done the past months is layer up in clothing in order to be able to adapt to the possible weather conditions we will experience at nationals.
Humidity is a whole different aspect that many of us aren’t adapted to, but heat training has been one of the strategies we have included in preparation. As we stay on top of the little things such as hydrating, eating well, and sleeping well, we have also looked at things in a different lens.
We understand that our competition is going to be tough to beat, but we have all learned through these past championship races that as long as we put faith within each other, we are giving ourselves the best opportunity to accomplish something great.
Precious Robinson talked about the best way she is preparing for nationals when she said, “To prepare, I tell myself not to overthink or over exaggerate the essence of the race for nationals. I will simply keep doing what I’m doing.”
I’m not entirely sure where this idea comes from, that nationals is any different than other races we have done before. I understand that we are racing more teams and the competition will be more intense. But when it comes to Adams State, we are always willing to take on a challenge and approach each race in the same manner as other races. We will always try to run to the best of our ability.
The Adams State women’s and men’s teams that will approach the line at nationals are a combination of young individuals who had to adapt quickly and step up their game.
“Going into a national meet with such a young team is very exciting,” said Isaiah Paiz, “because our young team has been able to grow and do a lot of amazing things throughout this season, which gives us confidence that we are ready for the main event.”
We know that everyone around us wants to beat us, and we know they will be watching our every move. Being one of the top teams in the nation doesn’t make us feel like we are unbeatable, but encourages us to be alert and continue to want to build off the momentum we have created.
Morgan Hykes said, “It’s exciting to be on such a young team. We are a group of talented runners and to be so good, so young gives us many opportunities to take home a big trophy with years to come.”
I’ve noticed myself in races, the number of people who sit behind and watch to see what my next move will be, and I feel that is the stance that surrounds our whole team.
This season has definitely been a different experience than the past, just because I went from being someone who used to run farther back in the pack to now someone who is running among the best of the best.
I think the atmosphere around me is something I personally had to adapt to. It’s different to have people going into a race know your name.
I also had to come to the understanding that I am now one of the older girls on the team, and to have so many younger girls who want to chase after the same goals as you really begins to create a bond and sets this level of expectation. I quickly realized I was going to have to learn to mature and be a leader who encourages them to be the best versions of themselves that they can possibly be.
As we mature as runners, we mature as people as well, and I think being on top hasn’t changed who we are in a negative way but has shown us that we can be a better version of ourselves as long as we are willing to commit to every aspect of this journey.
Nationals will be different this year because I myself will be lacing up for the first time and competing this year instead of being an alternate. I think the fact that I was an alternate two years ago has allowed me to grow and makes this moment even more special. It will be a new experience that I will get to undergo with the rest of the team.
We have one goal in mind and no, it is not to win because winning is not guaranteed. Instead, the goal is to be able to put our trust within each other, within this program, within our coaching staff, and just run and make the most of the opportunity we have been given.