VANCOUVER, Wash. – A pair of Goshen College men's cross country runners are in the Great Northwest and are set for the 57th Annual NAIA Men's Cross Country National Championships on Saturday.
Senior Billy Funk (Gallup, N.M.) and sophomore Jordan Smeltzer (New Paris, Ind.) are part of the championship field set to take to the 8k course at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. A total of 655 student-athletes (men's and women's combined) from 133 different schools will line up on Saturday, with the men's race set for a 11:45 a.m. (PST) opening gun.
Smeltzer is making a return trip to the national championships after finishing 131st as a freshman with a time of 26:01 on the Fort Vancouver course. It is the first national championship appearance for Funk.
A senior, Funk has hovered around the 26-minute mark all season, including a 26:01 earning him sixth place at the Crossroads League Championships at Indiana Wesleyan University two weeks ago. His best time of the season came in a big Goshen team win at the Benedictine University Eagle Invitational where he clocked in at 25:43. He finished as the first Maple Leaf across the line in five of Goshen's six traditional events.
Smeltzer has come on late his sophomore season, grabbing seventh at the Crossroads League Championships with a time of 26:03. His best time of the year also came at the Benedictine Eagle Invite where he completed the 8k course in 25:59.
At last year's championships, Wayland Baptist's Kennedy Kithuka won the individual title in a blistering 23:15, while Oklahoma Christian captured the team title with four runners in the top 30 to tally just 93 points.
Smeltzer and Funk, along with coaches Doug Yoder and Justin Gillette arrived in Vancouver late Thursday night. On Friday, they spend time adjusting to the three-hour time change, touring the course, and making final preparations for Saturday's race. For the latest and most up-to-date coverage of Smeltzer and Funk at the national championships, follow us on Twitter (@GCMapleLeafs).