September 10, 2021 | SPORTS | By Michael Braithwaite | Photo by Anil Jergens

The Colorado College men’s cross-country team opened up the fall season last weekend by placing fifth in the Rust Buster Meet at Monument Valley Park. Even though the team was not running at its highest intensity, the meet provided both insight and anticipation for the coming season.

The Tigers are coming into this season with high expectations after their win in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship last February. It was the only official race that the team competed in last year. 

James Settles ’24, who finished third in February’s championship meet, did not seem too concerned about the amount of hype surrounding the team. In fact, he stated that their goals for this season extend far beyond last year’s accomplishments.

“Our goal [last year] was just to win conference, and we accomplished it,” Settles said. “Because we have such a strong lineup [this year], our goal is to get to nationals and see how we do [there].”

Settles also spoke about the recent promotion of Alex Nichols to full-time head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams.  He said it gave the team more focus and stability heading into the season.

Just last season, longtime track and field head coach Ted Castaneda retired, contributing further chaos to last year’s COVID-plagued season and leading to Nichols’ promotion from assistant coach to interim head coach. Nichols impressed in his new role, winning the SCAC Coach of the Year award in March, and earning himself the permanent head coach position for both the men’s and women’s cross-country teams.

“We really wanted him to be the head coach, and I think everyone on the men’s and women’s team just loves him,” Settles said.

With questions surrounding team leadership put to rest, the team can now focus completely on preparing for the season ahead. And, of course, with that focus comes anticipation and excitement. One of the main reasons for this excitement stems from the amount of young talent the team gained over the summer. Devlin Swanson ’24 is one of the new additions who is generating buzz within the team due to his early success.

Although he was not on the cross-country team last season, Swanson put a lot of time and effort into getting himself into better physical and mental shape so he could compete at his best this season.

“I got better at the whole mentality [surrounding] the race [last year], and how to approach [the upcoming season],” Swanson said.

Both inside the team and out, there is a lot of energy about the new cross-country season. That excitement, while mainly due to the investment of young talent and a great head coach into the team, could also be attributed to the fact that we, as CC students, have not truly experienced school sports in over a year and a half.

The next cross-country meet is at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11 at Monument Valley Park North. 

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