By Scott Barker, Communications and Sports Information Intern
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – (Individual / Team Results) 326 runners took on the challenge of McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte, N.C. Oklahoma City was up to the challenge, as the Stars won the 60th Annual NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Championships on Saturday, with a team score of 78 points.
Oklahoma City becomes the seventh team to at-least three championships in a row. Arya Bahreini led the Stars with a third-place finish, ending with a time of 24:15.1. Joining Bahreini, was teammate David Mountford, who finished fifth with a time of 24:36.0. Both runners finished in the top 20 at last year’s championships.
Collectively, the Stars ran a team time of 2:24.54, en route to a 90 point win over St. Mary (Kan.), who finished with in second with a total time of 2:07.31 seconds.
St. Mary was led by two top-25 finishers by Russell Brown (15th, 25:02.7) and Ryan Pulsifer (28th, 25:12.2). The second-place finish is the highest finish by the Spires at the Championships.
The rest of the top-5 included – Indiana Wesleyan (3rd, 178 points), St. Francis (Ill.) (4th, 201 points) and British Columbia (5th, 219 points).
“I started the program from scratch in 2011 and won the first championship in 2013 and nobody expected to win it [championship] and then we won it the second time people expected us to win it,” said Head Coach Connor Holt. “This time we had new kids come in and expectations were high and the kids were excited about it. We knew it would be a little tighter this year but we had gamers on the team and I couldn’t be more happier for them.”
Geoffrey Kipchumba of William Carey (Miss.), was the individual champion with a time of 23:55.0. The Southern States Athletic Conference Runner of the Year finished 10th at last year’s championship and becomes the first men’s individual champion from William Carey. The Crusaders become the 32nd institution to have an individual champion.
2014 individual champion, Benard Keter of Wayland Baptist finished 2nd with a time of 24:14.2, while Jackson Thomas of Bacone (Okla.) (4th) rounded out the top-5
The national championships were held for the first time at McAlpine Park in Charlotte, N.C.