For the second-consecutive season the North Central College men’s cross country team stands atop the podium, persevering past the 32-team field at the NCAA Division III National Championship on Saturday, held at LaVern Gibson Championship Course.
The meet announcer stated that North Central sat in fifth place after the 7,000-meter mark of the 8,000-meter course, but the Cardinals were able to outlast the field picking off runners one by one during the final thousand meters, enroute to the 15th National Men’s Cross Country Championship in program history.
“We really pulled it out in the last quarter mile,” said head coach Al Carius. “We knew we had to build as the race went on because it was a tougher course than it appears. We waited until the last second to pull it out, but fortunately that’s the way the season has gone.”
North Central tallied 167 total team points in the standings while Calvin College (Mich.) and Haverford College (Pa.) tied for second-place, each amassing 188 points.
The University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse ended the day just two points back in fourth with 190 team points and Washington University (Mo.) rounded out the top-five compiling 226 total points.
Junior John Crain paced the Cardinals with a sixth-place finish, earning his first All-America accolade, crossing the tape in a time of 24 minutes, 43.50 seconds. Dan Kerley was the next Cardinal to cross the finish line, as the senior ended his career with a 14th-place finish in a time of 24:48.50, also earning his first All-America certificate.
Roger Klein finished the course in a time of 25:12.20, good for 44th-place while Yonatan Mascote finished close behind in 50th-place, crossing the tape in 25:17.40 and Tim Hird rounded out the scoring for the Cardinals finishing in 121st-place, with a time of 25:50.40.
“We knew the course was going to be tough, so the two things we preached today were patience and confidence,” said Crain. “The first loop we wanted to be patient and the second lap we wanted confidence to finish off and stay strong through the whole race. That’s how we’ve been racing this year and somehow we finished it out with determination.”
Tim Nelson of the University of Wisconsin-Stout claimed the individual championship, completing the course in a time of 24 minutes, 26.80 seconds.
North Central is the only institution to appear in all 40 NCAA Division III Men’s Cross Country Championships and has finished among the top four on 36 occasions.
With the victory, North Central has now captured 30 National Titles in all sports, including 25 at the NCAA Division III level. In addition to the 15 cross country crowns (1975, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2009, 2011, 2012) the Cardinals have tallied three indoor track & field titles (1989, 2010, 2011), six outdoor track & field titles (1989, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2010, 2011), one women’s basketball title (1983) and four NAIA titles in men’s swimming (1958, 1961, 1962, 1963).