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2023 LC State Cross Country Season Preview

LEWISTON, Idaho – Lewis-Clark State Cross Country will look to do big things in the 2023 season and that all begins on Friday in Cheney, Wash., at the Northwest Clash.



In 2022, the Warriors replaced four All-Americans and touted a roster full of hungry, young talented runners who wanted to fill those large shoes and continue the success of the LC team. Two top-20 finishes at nationals last year and a returning roster that sees 12 of the 14 national racers return has placed both teams in the top-15 in the preseason polls. The women start the season 13th while the men begin in 14th.


“Speaking from a coaching perspective, I don’t get too caught up into the rankings,” head coach Mike Collins said. “Expectation-wise, I think the polls based off of preseason are relatively realistic because we did return just about everybody from both rosters. So, expectations are high. In the end, hopefully we’re actually better than that.”


Collins leads the Warriors into the racing season for the 27th time and looks to continue the long history of both teams reaching nationals. The women have qualified in 22 consecutive seasons, on a long streak of their own.


“I think we have two teams that are quite capable of being on the podium. We can control what we can control. But we have some challenges,” Collins said. “Our conference is probably, if not the best, one of the top two conferences in the entire country. We have a lot of work in front of us still to come before the real polls that actually matter come out.”


The Warrior women are led by returning all-conference runners Geraldin Correa and Brooklyn Shell. Shell had the best finish for any Warrior at nationals last year, crossing the line in 59th place. Correa dealt with an illness the week of travel to Tallahassee, Fla., and finished 183rd.


Four other runners from that women’s national team also return as senior Abigail Peightal, junior Grace McCormick and sophomores Grace Dixon and Grace Tiegs all return.


Carter Gordon had the lone top-100 finish on the men’s side in nationals, finishing 83rd, and returns as a junior for a squad that lost just one racer from that nationals team. Senior Brycen Brown is in fact the only runner on the team last year that will be a senior this season. Juniors Conner May, Brycen Kempton and Griffen Parsells all return, as does sophomore Kobe Wessels.


“Only seven get to run at nationals. Seven. And I’ve got, right now, I think I got 15, 16 guys as good as we had seven last year. So that’ll be tough,” Collins said. “And the same thing’s going to happen on the women’s side.”


With both teams returning so many of their runners from nationals, the competition within the team should help push everyone to a new level. According to Collins, the team has responded well to the challenge and are ready to compete.


“If we lose somebody on a day because they just had a bad day or they’re sick, we’ve got people that are not just ready, but are wanting to step in,” Collins said. “It will be very challenging for me at the end of the year to decide who’s running. “


As is the case every year, the Cascade Conference will not make the job easy on the Warriors. On the women’s side, College of Idaho will enter the season ranked No. 3. Southern Oregon is in the ninth spot with Eastern Oregon closing out the polls at No. 25.


Much is the same on the men’s side where College of Idaho will start the season just outside the top-5 in sixth, Eastern Oregon will start ninth, Southern Oregon in 12th and Oregon Tech starting at No. 17.


“Our conference is very tough to win. I mean, it really is. Between teams that invariably finish on the podium, top ten every year. I mean, last year, if you look at our men’s team, theoretically, we finished sixth in the conference and we finished 20th in the country,” Collins said. “And at nationals, we did not run at our best. It’s like, our conference is just so challenging…I think it prepares us better for nationals.”


LC State will not have many competitions to prepare themselves for a possible trip back to nationals. After the opening race this Friday, the Warriors will return to Washington in back-to-back races. LC State will take part in the WSU Invitational in Colfax on Sept. 15 and travel to Walla Walla on Sept. 30 for the Whitman Invitational. Also on Sept 30, some of the runners will travel to Louisville, Ky. for the highly competitive Louisville Classic.


The Warriors will host the annual LC State Invitational on Oct. 14 at the LC State Cross Country Trail before the Cascade Conference Championships on Nov. 3 in Caldwell, Idaho.


The NAIA Cross Country National Championships will be closer to home for LC State this year as they will take part on Nov. 17 in Vancouver, Wash. Collins said the lack of travel and the familiarity of the course could lead to a strong finish for the Warriors.


“Time zone, I think, is a big difference. Florida, we raced at 8:30 a.m. their time, 5:30 our time. We’re used to getting up early and running, but it’s a whole different world when you’re traveling,” Collins said. “We’ve raced well virtually every time we’ve raced in Vancouver. I mean, my first podium team was in Vancouver, so we like it there. It’s nice to be close to home. You get family and friends that can come that normally can’t, so we get a little added benefit there too.”


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