By: Shawn O’Brate

LEADVILLE, CO – The Central Wyoming College (CWC) Cross Country team has had some up and down weekends over the past season, and under new head coach Ricky Faure that was to be expected. What may not have been expected was just how well the team would finish under Coach Faure, which came to fruition this past weekend in Colorado at the Region IX Cross Country Championships.

It was there where the Lady Rustlers edged out the Trinidad State team by a single point to take home the gold and the 2022 Region IX title for only the second time in school history. Plenty of the Lady Rustlers’ team is homegrown talent, like Larissa McElroy, a former Wyoming Indian Lady Chief runner, and three separate runners from Lander including Abby Gribowskas, Kaylynn Sandall and Jessica White. 

“I think it’s super special to have them,” Coach Faure said about his local talent. “We take pride in keeping Wyoming kids in Wyoming athletics, especially running. The more they mature the more you can get out of them, it’s really special.”

The Rustlers and Lady Rustlers smiled as they received their trophy for winning first at Region IX’s Championships in the snow of Colorado (p/c Ricky Faure)

The women finished in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 10th and 12th which helped them get the title and the recognition they rightfully deserved all season long. White, the lone sophomore on the Lady Rustlers’ team, said “the race was hard but it’s been a very fun season. I’m excited to see all the great things Larissa and the other Freshmen will do next year.”

“Today was a good day,” McElroy stated afterwards. “I was blessed to be running in my Arapaho ancestral homelands. It was an honor to represent my college and tribe. I am very proud of my teammates and my coach!”

Speaking of her coach, it was not just the women’s team that won a major accolade but it was also Coach Faure who came away with a plaque. Faure was named Coach of the Year in his first season as head coach and he said he “could not achieve it without the kids.”

Coach Rick Faure won Coach of the Year and was awarded his plaque in Leadville after his women’s team squashed the competition (p/c Ricky Faure)

“It feels pretty special [but] without them none of this is possible,” Faure continued. 

The men’s team had one of their best performances in Leadville as well, finishing second behind the loaded Trinidad State team. They finished 11th, 13th, 16th, 17th and 20th with sophomore Luke Crossley finishing on top for the boys once again. 

“The course was very hard but we gritted out the hard parts,” CWC sophomore Gabe Villalobos said. “I can’t wait to see what this team can do in the future at Nationals and during track.”

Now the team travels to Tallahassee, Florida on November 12th as Coach Faure is bringing three girls and three boys to compete in Nationals. 

“We won’t be able to score as a team but it’s important to see the national competition,” Coach Faure said about his upcoming time in Florida. 

Mitch Johnson, Crossley and Villalobos will be joining White, Sandall and McElroy as the lone Rustlers to make the trek, but Coach Faure knows that these six will help CWC realize what the future is for this team.

“This year was important, it set the bar for the rest of the program and that’s what we talked about early in the season,” Coach Faure said. “We try to develop as much experience as we can … but props to them on taking on a Regional course and showing up day-by-day ready to go and ready to get better.”

Congratulations to both CWC Cross Country teams, as well as Coach Faure, and good luck in Florida next weekend! The Region IX banner will be hoisted up in the CWC rafters during a home basketball game later on this year, for more information on when and where be sure to stay up to date with the Ranger and Lander Journal as well as WyoToday.