LEWISTON, Idaho – A lot has changed for Lewis-Clark State Cross Country since last season. The Warriors graduated four All-Americans, most notably one of the most decorated cross country runners in LC history in Cole Olsen. LC will look to a young group of motivated runners to carry on the historic success of the program when the season starts on Sept. 1.
“We just have to go out and do the best we can,” Head Coach Mike Collins said. “A tradition has been established for quite some time now, so regardless of whether you are a returner or a new runner you know that the expectations are high and you have an accountability to make to those Warriors that came before you proud.”
Collins enters his 22nd season leading the Warrior teams and has built the program into a powerhouse at the national level. The women’s team has qualified for nationals the last 21 seasons with the men not far behind.
LC State’s “Three Cs” in Olsen, Clayton VanDyke and Chase Barrow wrapped up their successful careers in 2021, leaving the door open for the next group of Warriors to step up and lead the group. Fifth-year senior and Lewiston native Connor Turpin will return for his final season after capturing his second All-American honor in track and field with a fourth-place finish in the half marathon.
“Men’s team may be a lead by committee,” Collins explained. “We will be very deep and there may be someone that rises to the top, but I am quite content with a large pack of very good guys.”
Conner May and Carter Gordon showed improvement last season, and Griffen Pasells, Brycen Brown and Brycen Kempton all made an impact in their first seasons as Warriors.
LC State brings in a strong recruiting class ahead of the 2022 season, including Lewiston native Kobe Wessels and Nampa’s Clay Shumaker.
With the departure of seniors Emily Adams, Rylee Brown, Maja Plaznik and Callie Johnson, the Warrior women enter 2022 with a reloaded roster. Geraldin Correa enters her third season as a Warrior after a standout track and field season that saw a conference title in the 800m and All-American finish as part of the 4x800m relay, so LC will look to the Kennewick, Wash., native as a leader on the course.
Along with Correa, Brooklyn Shell, Abigail Peightal and Abigail Gorton return with experience at the national stage. The four helped the Warrior women to a 27th-place finish at the NAIA meet.
“Women should be led by Geraldin, who had a great track season, and Brooklyn Shell, whom I believe is ready to go to another level,” Collins added.
The Cascade Conference is stacked with talent on both the men’s and women’s side. The conference had seven men’s teams at nationals last year with six placing in the top 25. Five CCC represented on the women’s side with three in the top 25.
“Cascade is tough,” Collins said. “C of I, Southern Oregon and Eastern Oregon have great histories. OIT and Bushnell have also won national titles in recent year. Very deep.”
The Warrior men were picked to finish fourth in the CCC preseason poll, with the women picked third. Both will begin the season ranked in the NAIA’s top 25, with the men No. 17 and the women No. 23.
LC State opens the season at Eastern Washington’s NW Clash before heading to Indiana for the Taylor Invitational. Collins will send a small group of runners to the Whitman Invitational on Oct. 1 before hosting the LC State Invitational on Oct. 8 which coincides with LC State’s Homecoming week. The Warriors will wrap up the regular season at the NCAA DII Pre-Nationals meet in the open section, hosted by Seattle Pacific on Oct. 22.
“Going back to Indiana should be fun and a great early-season test,” Collins said. “We may actually add another big travel meet towards the end if it seems like we are gelling and we need some attention in the national polls, but we will see how it goes. Our home meet is on Homecoming weekend this year and we expect a few new schools to come because of the date change. It is always a very competitive meet.”
The Cascade Conference Championships will be held on Nov. 4 in Ashland, Ore., and the national meet is scheduled for Nov. 18 in Tallahassee, Fla.