Leafs News
Smith Obliterates Own Record, Claims Goshen's First League Crown Since 1991
News Photo
Men's Cross Country - Sat, Nov. 5, 2016

MARION, Ind. — Ryan Smith knocked 13.8 seconds off his own school record, defeating the field by nearly twice that amount, to win the Crossroads League championship in men's cross country Saturday morning at Indiana Wesleyan University.

The senior finished his conference career by completing the eight-kilometer (4.97-mile) loop in 24 minutes, 41.5 seconds, making him the first runner in Maple Leaf cross country history to finish a race in less than five minutes per mile. The next runner in the field, Taylor senior Matt Hall, finished 25.9 seconds later. Smith's time was the fastest at the CL meet since Spring Arbor's Nathan Martin finished in 24:13.71 four years ago.

Smith becomes the first Maple Leaf to claim the CL men's cross country crown since 1991, when Geoff Douglas took the league title. He is the 11th Goshen runner and sixth man to win an individual conference championship in the sport, with the first seven coming between 1980 and 1992.

Freshman Steven Cranston joined Smith in claiming the all-conference honors given to the first 15 finishers. Turning in his fourth personal-record time in as many meets, Cranston finished eighth overall in 25:33.8, the 15th-fastest time in school history and fourth-best clip by a runner other than Smith.

Smith is guaranteed a berth at the NAIA national meet in Elsah, Illinois, on November 19 and Cranston will likely join him. The top four CL finishers whose teams do not qualify will receive berths: team champion Marian University qualifies automatically.

After removing the Knight runners, Cranston was the fifth individual left: if Taylor, Bethel or Spring Arbor qualify as teams (Taylor and Bethel are each listed in the most recent top-25 ratings), their runners would be removed and Cranston would qualify. The national meet's field will be announced Monday at approximately 6 p.m. EST. Cranston would be the fourth Goshen man to reach nationals as a freshman and the third in a six-year span.

As a team, Goshen finished in fifth place with 113 points, five behind Indiana Wesleyan. GC's top five runners finished in 130 minutes and 40 seconds, more than a minute faster than the fourth-place Wildcats and 25 seconds behind second-place Taylor.

Senior Luke Graber was third on the team and 24th overall, missing all-conference recognition by nine spots and less than 25 seconds. The Stryker, Ohio, native, whose 22 appearances over the last four years match Smith for the most among Goshen seniors, shaved 14.1 seconds off his previous best time to finish in 26:27.1. If GC does not qualify for nationals, Graber will finish his career with three straight career bests.

Juan Perez was Goshen's fourth runner across the line in 26:48.3, rounding out the top 40 in the 10-team meet's overall order of finish. The freshman lowered his career best by more than 33 seconds. Junior Brenner Burkholder and freshman Delphin Monga each set new best times as well.

Goshen posted its fastest combined time in school history for the top two runners, with Smith and Cranston beating their combined clocking of 50:54 at the Great Lakes Challenge two weeks ago. The Maple Leafs also had their fastest top-three time in school history, unseating a 76:56 mark by Mark Plank, Terry Yoder and Kevin Leinbach at the 1980 NAIA District 21 rendezvous. Saturday's team was also the second-fastest four-runner time and third-fastest five-runner time.

"This is the kind of result toward which you build for the entire season," said Goshen head coach Rustin Nyce. "When your top four runners finish with PRs the results pretty well speak for themselves. It also bodes well for your future when a freshman gets as close as Steven did to the top of the podium. Unfortunately for us the poll determines who goes to nationals, and it tends to take a longer-term view of the season, but I guess we'll just have to see."

Regardless of whether the national meet includes one Maple Leaf, two or the whole team, the race is set for November 19. Start times have not been announced.

Full Goshen team results follow.

Team: 5. Goshen 113
1. Ryan Smith 24:41.5 (new school record, replacing own 24:55.30)
8. Steven Cranston 25:33.8
24. Luke Graber 26:27.1
40. Juan Perez 26:48.3
48. Daniel Klink 27:08.6
52. Luke Kaufman 27:16.3
68. Brenner Burkholder 28:07.1
Ryan Haggerty 28:59.5
Alex Steiner 29:37.9
Max Burkholder 30:13.9
Delphin Monga 30:29.1
Jose Ortiz 31:04.6