LEWISTON, Idaho -- Rocky Mountain College will have 13 runners competing Friday afternoon at the Frontier Conference cross country championships in the Lewiston Orchards.
At stake will be team and individual berths to the NAIA championships, set for Nov. 23 in Lawrence, Kan.
There will be six men's and six women's teams running at the Frontier meet. The women's race will begin at 2 p.m. (Mountain), followed by the men at 3 p.m.
“The goal is to always get to nationals,” Rocky coach Alan King said. “Both teams are in that position where it is very feasible for them.”
Rocky's women placed third last year in Helena, while the Battlin' Bear men were sixth.
Carroll College's men and women are the defending team champions.
The winning men's and women's teams will receive automatic invitations to nationals. Additional at-large team berths may also be handed out.
Host Lewis-Clark State's men are ranked No. 3 nationally, Dickinson State is 19th and Rocky has been receiving votes. L-C State's women are 12th in the national poll, followed by Carroll 14th and Rocky 18th.
Individually, the top five finishers inside the top 15 and not on national-qualifying teams will also earn trips to nationals. Some at-large individual berths may also be awarded later.
The Bears will have seven men and six women competing.
This is the seventh year for the Rocky program. The Bears have qualified individuals to nationals every year, but will be looking to qualify their first team.
Rocky senior Ana Richter was third among the women at last year's Frontier championships. Junior teammate Rachael Hart was sixth.
Senior Megan Breeding has also been in the mix this fall after placing 18th at last year's conference meet.
Senior Noah Kiprono of Rocky placed 8th individually in 2011, but redshirted last season. Freshman Kyle Olson is expected to be another top performer for the Bears.
The men will run eight kilometers (4.9 miles) and the women will go five kilometers (3.1 miles).
Both Kiprono and Olson have been clocked at under 25 minutes this season. Richter, Hart and Breeding have turned in times ranging from 18:08 to 18:21.
King said his women’s team isn’t as deep as it has been in the past, but it’s his fastest group.
As for the men, “this is by far the best team I’ve ever had on the guys’ side,” he said.
Last year's individual winners, Dave Marks of Lewis-Clark State and Rhianna Grossman of Carroll College, are not back this year.
Running for the Rocky men will be Kiprono, Olson, sophomore Shawn Peden, freshman Fred Petsch, junior Cory Berry, freshman Beau Mulvaney and senior Johnny Barnes.
Besides Richter, Hart and Breeding, the Rocky women will also be represented by freshman Jessica Raymond, junior Bailey Eich and sophomore Selene Johnson.