Adams State Landed Two Massive Colorado Talents

* Grand Junction's Tristian Spence finished fifth in Colorado's Class 4A 1,600m final last spring

Photo Credit: Bobby Reyes/Colorado MileSplit

By Garrett Zatlin - MileSplit Recruiting Correspondent

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Adams State is the historical epitome of distance running success at the NCAA Division II level.

With head coach Damon Martin being at the helm of the program since 1996, the Grizzlies have amassed 38 national championship team titles between all seasons of competition, across both the men's and women's teams.

While often recruiting from overseas -- specifically Ireland -- Martin has also been able to land some of the nation's best up-and-coming distance talents within the United States.

The most recent example is Fiona Hawkins, a California native and 2021 graduate of Newbury Park High School. She was a recent Division II All-American earlier this month. As a freshman. 

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But Hawkins is just one piece in the bigger long-term picture for Adams State.

This year, Martin and Co. also landed two highly-talented distance signees from the Class of 2022.

The first name who we need to mention is Tristian Spence. The Colorado native from Central Grand Junction (CO) has the potential to become an instant contributor at the DII level.

This past fall, Spence finished 15th at the CHSA Class 4A Cross Country Championships. However, if you look at her 2021 cross country season as a whole, one could argue that she actually held more potential than the state meet indicates.

Spence ran under the 18-minute barrier for 5,000 meters three different times this past fall. Her quickest mark came at the Garmin RunningLane XC National Championships, where she placed a very solid 35th-place overall with a personal best time of 17:18.

It's fair to say that Spence is at her best on the grass. She clearly thrives in the longer distances, and based on her recent improvements she could be even better at the collegiate level.

But make no mistake, Spence has shown plenty of promise on the track as well.

Last spring, she ran 5:02 for 1,600m to place fifth at the Colorado Track & Field State Championships. She also ran 2:17 for a sixth-place finish in the 800m

It's important to remember that the NCAA uses altitude conversions. So when Spence ran her personal bests, she did so at 5,500 feet of altitude.

And at the collegiate level, that means both of Spence's times would become even faster on the national leaderboard. Of course, she isn't the only high-caliber athlete set to join the Grizzlies next year. 

Maggie McCleskey, a current senior at Centaurus High School (CO), is a dynamic distance talent as well. She is strong in cross country, excels in the middle distances and can translate her endurance across both sports. 

McCleskey finished 10th in the same Class 4A cross country championship where Spence finished 15th. At the Garmin RunningLane National Championships, she also ran 17:43 for 5,000 meters, a personal best.

However, the track is where McCleskey's value truly skyrockets.

Her 800m personal best of 2:14 will catch the attention of most DII coaches. That mark, with a few minor improvements, can be instantly competitive at the collegiate level and maybe just outside of a national qualifying range.

Not only that, but McCleskey has run an arguably more impressive mark of 4:56 for 1,600 meters. That time would instantly make her a competitive DII talent.

And if that wasn't enough, she has also run 10:54 for 3,200 meters, a time that is among the best in the nation when evaluating other DII recruits.

McCleskey can clearly do a little bit of everything, giving her recruiting resume tons of value.

Adams State just landed two star-level talents who could continue to contribute to the Grizzlies' success in a major way over the next few years.