The Albion College men’s cross country team drew in a lot of attention after the NCAA Division III released the national coaches poll on Oct. 20, which ranked the team as 21st in the nation. Hayden Smith, head coach, said that this ranking truly reflects the men’s hard work.
“The national ranking is an excellent indicator of the men’s success,” Smith said. “It (shows) that the goal of qualifying for the NCAA National Championship is a realistic possibility.”
This is the first time in seven years that the team has been nationally ranked.
Almost everyone on the team has had a personal best time this season, Smith said. This has contributed to the outstanding team results this year, including the men’s fourth place finish at the inter-regional meet hosted by Oberlin College earlier this season. In that meet, the men placed above four nationally ranked teams.
While this season has been successful so far, the men are still aware they have to finish strong at the MIAA Championship. They will face the challenge of qualifying for the national championship at the upcoming Great Lakes regional championship meet on Nov. 13.
“It will take a top three finish with a chance fourth (to) get the team selected,” Smith said.
The national championship will take place in Iowa on Nov. 20.
“I hope our team is able to make it to nationals this year,” said Patrick Slavens, Canton senior. “We have had a strong group of runners in the past, but this year has been an outstanding mix of guys who push each other as well as encourage one another.”
Smith said that the success of this year’s team is a mix of hard work and dedication put in by past teams, as well as several outstanding first-year runners and a solid group of returning athletes.
“The reason for the success is a lot of hard work and determination; we set a goal at the beginning of the season to qualify for nationals and ‘do damage’ in the years to come,” said Carter Sherman, Belleville first-year. “Next year, after losing only one senior in the top seven, we should be extremely strong nationally.”