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Colorado Mountain College will soon be celebrating the launch of its first competitive cross-country running team, following on the heels of a running club at its highest-altitude campus.

Starting in fall 2019, CMC Leadville will have men’s and women’s National Junior College Athletic Association cross-country running teams. Coach Darren Brungardt is actively recruiting to fill slots on both teams now.

Brungardt, the 2018 CMC Leadville full-time Faculty of the Year, is an assistant professor of mathematics as well as the running club coach at the campus. He’s been working to elevate the college’s running program from a club to a team by recently securing an NJCAA designation for CMC’s runners.

Photo of Marley Seifert running

Marley Seifert, left, competed at the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association races with CMC Leadville’s running club in Michigan last November. In fall 2019 CMC will be starting a sanctioned cross-country running team. Photo Darren Brungardt

“Reaching upcoming high school seniors in the college’s service area is critical in filling our team,” Brungardt said, since those runners will be the incoming first-year students on the team in 2019. He noted that there are nearly 20 high school cross-country running teams in CMC’s service area. “College decisions are rapidly approaching, and I want our communities to know that running in college is possible at CMC starting in the fall of 2019.”

A trail system like no other

Colorado Mountain College offers a number of benefits to the runner who may love to run and want to compete but who may not make the team at a large college or university – yet.

“Everyone has a chance to run on our team,” Brungardt said. “And there’s nothing like our trail system at any other college. We have miles of soft trails running through the forest, right on campus and just steps away from any building. It is a cross-country running experience that is leaps and bounds above anyone else’s in the country.

“Plus,” he added, “you get stronger and tougher running at 10,000 feet.”

CMC’s team will compete against bigger universities in the state in preparation for regional competition, where they will compete against four NJCAA teams from Wyoming, Colorado and western Nebraska. CMC’s team can then compete against the rest of the country at nationals. The Leadville campus will host races as well as travel to other colleges.

Join the team – from any CMC campus

Brungardt said it’s possible to run with CMC for two years, then transfer to a larger program. It’s also possible for team members to compete on the team from any one of CMC’s campuses. “You can train when we train, and be a part of the team online,” he said. For instance, a runner living near another CMC campus who can’t attend trainings in Leadville can instead follow the workout schedule online, attend team meetings virtually and join the team in person for meets. Wherever they are, all team members need to attend school full-time, which means they need to take 12 credits, and they can’t have any previous college degrees.

“I could have used a place like CMC when I was going to college,” said Brungardt, who attended the University of Northern Colorado, where he ran for the team. He went on to earn a master’s degree in coaching and has coached cross-country and track for over a decade.

For more information about the 2019 Colorado Mountain College cross-country running team, contact Brungardt at 719-486-4296 or dbrungardt@coloradomtn.edu.