ELSAH, Ill. – University of Rio Grande senior Blake Freed narrowly missed earning All-American status, while the RedStorm finished 17th as a team at the 61st annual NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Championship, Saturday afternoon, at North Farm Cross Country Course.
Freed, a senior from Uhrichsville, Ohio, finished 36th in a time of 25:20. The top 30 individuals earned All-American honors.
A total of 37 teams and 331 runners competed in the 8k race.
Rio Grande also got a Top 60 finish from sophomore Kameron Carpenter (Newark, OH), who finished 59th in a time of 25:41.
The RedStorm was also represented by senior Dallas Guy (Buffalo, OH), who placed 104th in a time of 26:01; junior Dustin Moritz (Ironton, OH), who was 166th in a time of 26:25; sophomore Mike Norris (Dayton, OH), who was 190th after finishing in 26:35; senior Kyle Sanborn (Dover, OH), who crossed in 26:52 for 222nd place; and freshman River Spicer (West Milton, OH), who was 295th in a time of 28:11.
Southern Oregon claimed its second national championship in program history. The Raiders, who entered the national championship ranked No. 3 in the final regular-season coaches’ poll, accumulated 122 total points.
St. Francis (Ill.) took second in the team race with 148 points. British Columbia took third-place with 152 points, while College of Idaho (218 points) claimed fourth-place and The Master’s (Calif.) (261 points) fifth.
The last 1K of the individual race was arguably the most exciting moment of the 2016 championships, as Bacone’s (Okla.) Jackson Thomas out kicked defending national champion Geoffrey Kipchumba of William Carey (Miss.) to win the program’s first-ever individual title. The senior from Naschitti, N.M., flew through the course in a time of 23:50.2.
Thomas, who was also named NAIA National Cross Country Runner of the Week once earlier this season, is now a two-time All-American.
Kipchumba, who entered the national championship looking to become the first individual to win back-to-back titles since Kennedy Kithuka of Wayland Baptist accomplished the feat in 2010 and 2011, finished with a time of 23:57.1. The junior is now a three-time All-American.
Rounding out the top five individual finishers were Will Norris of Northwestern (Iowa) (24:29.3), Jesse Hooton of British Columbia (24:31.4) and John Gay of British Columbia (24:35.5).
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.