Caleb Neel and Chris Rohlf

From left, CMC Eagles cross-country runners Caleb Neel and Chris Rohlf are racing at the team’s last big meet of the season on an eight-kilometer course at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Rohlf ran a personal record of 29:25.6, and Neel bettered his PR by two minutes, finishing in 30:11.6.

The six runners who formed Colorado Mountain College’s first sanctioned cross-country running team in August are looking back on a productive season of competitive eight-kilometer racing in the National Junior College Athletic Association.

“I look at the work that they have all put in and how they have come together as a group and that makes me beam,” said head coach Darren Brungardt.

The team premiered and hosted its first meet at the 10,000-Foot Invite Aug. 31 on CMC Leadville’s running trails, and ran in its last big meet of the season at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Cross-Country Open Oct. 12. In between, the team competed in Alamosa Sept. 7 and Denver Oct. 5.

Runners consistently achieved personal records with each meet. During the second meet at Adams State University in Alamosa, Caleb Neel dropped eight minutes off his time to finish 45th overall, and Tyrone Chavez dropped almost five minutes from his time to finish 47th overall. At that meet, the team came in fifth out of seven collegiate teams.

Several runners finished their eight-kilometer cross-country season hovering around the 30-minute mark.

Jason Macaluso from the Vail Valley had a standout year, constantly improving and ultimately breaking his school record by over a minute, posting a 27:49.2 at the Colorado Springs race.

“He averaged nearly 5:33 per mile,” said Brungardt. “He is going to be a force in the NJCAA next year, and the nation better watch out for our Vail speedster!”

In Colorado Springs, Chris Rohlf from Summit County broke 30 minutes for the first time, setting a new personal record of 29:25.6. At that same race, Jack Setser ran a 30:48.8, shaving nearly a minute from his previous best time.

At the Roadrunner Invite in Denver, Connor McDermott, who attends CMC Spring Valley at Glenwood Springs and trains remotely with the team, lowered his personal record by 33 seconds, finishing with a 31:29.

As Brungardt looks back on the team’s first year, he is looking forward to the future of CMC Eagles cross-country running.

“Those men are exactly what we needed in our first year,” he said. “They are like brothers. They gelled so well. Each man was a critical cog in this team’s machine. I cannot wait to see what they will do next year for the Eagles.”

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