Oklahoma City Defends National Championship
By Mike DeVader, Communications & Sports Information Intern
LAWRENCE, Kan. – (Results) Cool conditions and a slick track didn’t slow down Oklahoma City in the 59th Annual NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Championships, as the Stars shot to their second-consecutive national championship at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, Kan., on Saturday afternoon.
With the victory, the Stars become the second NAIA program since 1999 to be ranked No. 1 the entire season en route to the national championship. Former member Malone (Ohio) accomplished that feat in 2007 and 2008.
Oklahoma City takes home its second national banner in program history with a stellar effort from all parties involved, as every countable racer finished in the top 21. The Stars were guided by NAIA All-American Peter Koskey, who crossed the finish line in third-place with a time of 24:44.
Koskey finished eighth overall in the national championships a season ago.
Joining Koskey in earning All-American honors for the national champions is Csaba Matko (5th; 24:54), Arya Bahreini (13th; 25:19), David Mountford (18th; 25:24) and Mackenzie Wahpepah-Harris (21; 25:29).
Collectively, the Stars accrued a team time of 2:05:51 on their way to 55 points – 58 points ahead of Southern Oregon, who finished in second with 113 total points. Oklahoma City and the Raiders completed the event in the same positions as the two schools stood in the final regular season NAIA Men’s Cross Country Coaches’ Top 25 Poll that was released on Nov. 9.
Max Runia and Eric Ghelfi were the high finishers for Southern Oregon, coming in eighth and ninth-place, respectively, with 25:10 and 25:15. The second-place team finish for the Raiders marks the third-consecutive national championships the squad finished as runner-up.
The rest of the top five included third-place Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) with 142 points, followed by Eastern Oregon who collected 144 points and Aquinas (Mich.) finished in fifth with 183 points.
Aquinas was the only non-top 10 ranked team to finish in the top five of the standings. (No. 11).
Individually, Wayland Baptist’s Benard Keter torched the 8-kilometer course by flying to the finish in 24:36, five seconds ahead of DJ Flores of Eastern Oregon. British Columbia’s Jack Williams was fourth at 24:53.