NMHU’s Samano concludes career

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NMHU reports

New Mexico Highlands University cross country standout Ismael Samano capped his collegiate career with a 172nd place finish at the 2012 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships held Saturday in Joplin, Mo.

Samano entered the race with high hopes of an All-American (top 40) finish after qualifying from the tough Central Region two weeks ago.

“There are eight regions, “ noted NMHU coach Bob DeVries, “but the Central took 11 of the top 25 and 15 of the All-American spots in the race.”

Samano had placed 18th in the Central Regional on Nov. 3 in Denver. In doing so, he earned all-region honors and became the third Highlands runner to qualify individually for nationals since 2008.

Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and regional foe Adams State won the men’s team title, beating league rival Colorado School of Mines, one of the most improved programs in the field.

Usual Adams archrival Western State slipped to sixth, its lowest showing in years.

Alaska-Anchorage senior Micah Chelimo was the individual champion.

The conference landed three men’s teams in the top six and put four squads in the top 11 (Adams first, Colorado School of Mines second, Western State sixth and Colorado-Colorado Springs 11th).

Samano appeared to be in good position 1,000 meters into the race — among the top 50 at that point — according to DeVries.

“I thought he was in a good spot at the 1Km (mark),” said DeVries, “He just never got moving after that.”

The Cowboy senior said he felt an over-aggressive start might have taken him out of his race plan.

“The start was super fast and aggressive,” said Samano. “I wasn’t comfortable from early on. I tried, but I just couldn’t go with the pack I expected to be racing.”

Samano, a 5-10 senior from Panorama City, Calif., has been one of the Cowboys’ leaders over the last couple of years.

Samano’s appearance marked the fourth national qualifier in the last five seasons for the NMHU program The men’s team last ran at nationals in 2007 — interestingly, a 10th place national finish on the same Joplin course.

Injury likely played a role in the team’s missing the cut this time.

The Cowboys finished ninth at regionals, and just the top six qualified.

Grand Valley State, a Michigan school, won the women’s national championship with Adams State’s Alicia Nelson taking  individual honors.