Mavs’ Niksic qualifies for track nationals

In only its second year of existence, the Colorado Mesa men’s track team has its first national indoor qualifier.

Sophomore Shane Niksic on Tuesday found his name on the final roster of invitees to the NCAA Division II national indoor meet, which is part of the Winter Sports Festival from March 7-9 in Birmingham, Ala.

Niksic, who is from Conifer, qualified in the 800 meters.

None of the CMU women who ran provisional qualifying times last week at the RMAC championships made the final cut.

Athletes who reach provisional qualifying standards can be placed in the field if not enough athletes reach automatic qualifying standards.

Swimming

Four Colorado Mesa divers and two swimmers have qualified for the NCAA Division II swimming and diving championships.

Divers Brock Martin, Ryan Popp, Amanda Jennings and Savannah Craft will compete March 7-9 at the Winter Sports Festival in Birmingham, Ala.

Also making the final field are Briana Purkapile in the women’s 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly and Mehdi El Hazzaz in the men’s 200 free, 100 free and 50 free.

Basketball

The Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team (23-1) held firm at No. 4 in this week’s USA Today/WBCA national rankings.

Only one undefeated team remains in Division II basketball, the Clayton State (Ga.) women. After Bentley (Mass.) University lost last week, Clayton State jumped into the No. 1 spot in the USA Today/WBCA women’s top 25 this week. Ashland (Ohio) is No. 2 and Bentley No. 3

The final two undefeated men’s teams also lost last week. Western Washington lost Thursday night at Alaska-Fairbanks, and Metro State lost Friday night at Fort Lewis.

As a result, West Liberty (W.Va.) is the new No. 1 team in the men’s NABC rankings, with Metro State second and Western Washington third.

The Fort Lewis men are No. 17 after beating Metro but losing the next night to Regis — 17 of the top 25 men’s teams lost at least once last week.

No other RMAC team is receiving votes in either poll entering the final week of the regular season.

Today, the all-important South Central Region rankings will be released. The final regional rankings March 10 determine the eight teams that will make the NCAA national tournament from the RMAC, Heartland and Lone Star conferences and the other seven regions in the nation.

Softball

New softball coach Candace Abrams got a bit of a rude welcome to the RMAC, with her first conference road trip to Las Vegas, N.M.

Abrams, who played at the University of Arizona, has already learned about shoveling snow off the field to practice, but Sunday coached in the snow.

The Mavericks won the first game of a scheduled doubleheader after sweeping Highlands on Saturday, and were tied 5-5 after seven innings in the final game of the series.

It was snowing so hard the game was stopped after the seventh. The Mavericks spent Sunday night in Las Vegas, with the hope of finishing the game Monday afternoon.

Conditions, though, wouldn’t permit that, so the game ended in a 5-5 tie and the Mavericks headed back to Grand Junction.

Colorado Mesa (5-4-1, 3-0-1 RMAC) has its home opener Saturday at noon against Black Hills State at Bergman Field.

Possibly the best news for Abrams: The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-40s on Saturday and 50 on Sunday.


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