Rhianna Grossman and the 10th-ranked Carroll College women’s cross country team look ready for a strong run at the Frontier Conference and NAIA national meets next month, while Sancho Ridesatthedoor appears primed for a breakthrough.
Grossman, a sophomore, won the women’s race Friday at the Carroll College Invitational at Bill Roberts Golf Course to lead a 1-6 sweep for the Saints, who finished with a perfect score of 15 — well ahead of runner-up Great Falls (15 points).
Ridesatthedoor, meanwhile, made up a substantial gap in the second half of the men’s 8-kilometer race to overtake Great Falls’ Shane Donaldson and win the men’s crown.
“I just saw him up there and I knew I just had to stay consistent,” Ridesatthedoor said. “I was just pulling my way up there.”
The sophomore from Missoula Hellgate finished the race in 26 minutes, 14.2 seconds (5:17 per mile), while Donaldson (26:28.3) and Great Falls teammate Tyler Nilsen (26:35.7) rounded out the top three. Great Falls, competing without its top runner, won the team title with 22 points. Carroll was second with 44 and Westminster finished third with 65.
Carroll runners Austin Stuchell (seventh, 26:58.5), Dennis Leigh (10th, 27:14.6), Ben Vaughan (12th, 27:22.9) and Ryan Utsey (16th, 28:05.2) rounded out the team’s scoring.
While the Carroll men are a long shot to win the Frontier Conference meet over sixth-ranked Lewis-Clark State for an automatic berth in the NAIA national meet, Ridesatthedoor’s recent performances rank him among the favorites to advance to nationals as an individual. To do that, he must place among the top five runners not on a team that qualifies for nationals.
“Sancho is a lot of fun to watch, because he’s getting a lot more confident,” Carroll coach Matt Morris said. “He knows he’s supposed to be up front and he’s looked pretty good in two straight races.
“He definitely has a good chance to go to nationals, which would be a great thing for the program. He just has to control his own destiny and count heads at the conference meet. He’s got the tools to do it.”
Ridesatthedoor didn’t run distance events last track season — instead focusing on the pole vault and high jump. But his dedication to the discipline of distance running and leadership on and off the course has helped the Saints reach uncharted territory. This week, the men’s team picked up votes in the coaches’ poll for the first time in program history.
“That was a great confidence-builder for us, especially for the young guys, the freshmen,” said Ridesatthedoor, who now plans to stick with distance running year-round. “It’s good for them to see their hard work is getting noticed.”
The Saints will have another chance to get noticed Nov. 4 at the Frontier Conference meet in Billings. The national meet is Nov. 19 in Vancouver, Wash.
“I definitely want to go to nationals,” Ridesatthedoor said. “We know LCSC is very tough and should get the team berth, but our goal is to finish second. Hopefully, we can get in the mix.”
Meanwhile, the women’s team worked on strategy as they prepare to make a run on their second consecutive Frontier Conference title and a repeat trip to nationals.
Grossman held back for the first 3 kilometers of the 5-kilometer race to help her teammates improve their average time and tighten up their 2-5 gap.
“The whole goal is to push those girls up,” Grossman said. “Our goal was to stay together as a group, learning how to pace each other and talk to each other during a race. It was fun to run with the other girls and help them out.”
After they completed 3 kilometers, Grossman shifted into another gear and built a 30-second winning margin in the final 2 kilometers. She won in 18:42.5, while teammates Jamie Green (19:13.1), Katie Gilboy (19:28.5), Shanna Burke (19:31.9), Allie Reynolds (19:41.8) and Carly Schwickert (19:48.1) followed her across the finish line.
“Our workouts are getting better and better and we’re doing our best to pack up,” Grossman said. “I am really proud of the girls.”
While the Saints will enter the Frontier Conference meet as the favorites after earning a top 10 ranking for the first time in team history, No. 14 Lewis-Clark State will be nipping at their heels, prepared to take advantage of any weaknesses. If Carroll and Lewis-Clark take the top two spots in either order at the conference meet, the runner-up will likely earn a wild-card berth in the national meet because of their rankings based on their body of work throughout the season.
“Last year, we were just happy to be at nationals and the kids kind of lost sight of why we were there,” Morris said. “We went in ranked 14th and finished 20th. We’re trying to get better prepared for nationals right now, because we want to go there and really do something special. I think we’re prepared to run better than we did last year, but you’ve still got to run the races.”
Carroll College Invitational
Bill Roberts Golf Course
Men (8 kilometers)
Team scores — 1, Great Falls 22; 2, Carroll College 44; 3, Westminster 65.
1, Sancho Ridesatthedoor, Carroll, 26:14.2; 2, Shane Donaldson, Great Falls, 26:28.3; 3, Tyler Nilsen, Great Falls, 26:35.7; 4, Shane Weldon, Great Falls, 26:38.2; 5, Joseph Hartmeier, Great Falls, 26:39.8; 6, Oliver Lange, Westminster, 26:54.1; 7, Austin Stuchell, Carroll, 26:58.5; 8, Andrew Hornung, Great Falls, 27:03.3; 9, Riley Frazier, Great Falls, 27:10.7; 10, Dennis Leigh, Carroll, 27:14.6;
11, Dylan MacNevin, Westminster, 27:15.6; 12, Ben Vaughan, Carroll, 27:22.9; 13, Taylor Peliska, UNA-Carroll, 27:32.4; 14, Colton Berry, UNA-Carroll, 27:33.0; 15, Parker Mildenhall, Westminster, 27:34.7; 16, Ryan Utsey, Carroll, 28:05.2; 17, Lyle Pocha, Carroll, 28:08.6; 18, Austin Morgan, Great Falls, 28:08.9; 19, Eric Blake, UNA, 28:10.2; 20, Jef Marsicola, Westminster, 29:08.6;
21, Matt Nagie, Westminster, 29:26.6; 22, Cameron Bates, Great Falls, 29:34.7; 23, Tommy Sulllivan, UNA, 30:14.0; 24, Kyle Willis, UNA-Carroll, 31:11.9; 25, Peter Chew, Westminster, 31:44.3; 26, Zack Wagner, UNA-Carroll, 32:29.3; 27, Theron Hamilton, Montana Tech, 32:37.4; 28, Adam Cass, Montana Tech, 32:46.0.
Women (5 kilometers)
Team scores — 1, Carroll College 15; 2, Great Falls 54; 3, Westminster 68.
1, Rhianna Grossman, Carroll, 18:42.5; 2, Jamie Greene, Carroll, 19:13.1; 3, Katie Gilboy, Carroll, 19:28.5; 4, Shanna Burke, Carroll, 19:31.9; 5, Allie Reynolds, Carroll, 19:41.8; 6, Carly Schwickert, Carroll, 19:48.1; 7, Alejandra Borunda, Great Falls, 19:58.3; 8, Monique Arvisais-Anhalt, Westminster, 20:01.5; 9, Shelby Tritthart, Great Falls, 20:02.7; 10, Jenyffer Ortega, Great Falls, 20:14.1;
11, Hannah Hafner, Carroll, 20:18.8; 12, Chelsey Fraser, Westminster, 20:23.4; 13, Brandi Eloff, Great Falls, 20:25.1; 14, Jana Peale, Westminster, 20:28.7; 15, Loni Hanson, UNA, 20:30.7; 16, Hillary Jackson, Carroll, 20:44.3; 17, Jenni Hill, Great Falls, 20:58.5; 18, Cassie Mulkey, Westminster, 21:01.4; 19, Christina Bruce, Great Falls, 21:03.9; 20, Emmalee Barajas, Westminster, 21:11.7;
21, Katrina England, Westminster, 21:49.3; 22, Allison Gregory, Westminster, 22:09.8; 23, Ashley Salcedo, Westminster, 23:16.0; 24, Hannah Dysinger, Montana Tech, 24:16.3.