Leafs News
Steven Cranston, Ryan Smith Qualify For NAIA Cross Country Championship
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Men's Cross Country - Mon, Nov. 7, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Freshman Steven Cranston and senior Ryan Smith have qualified to represent the Goshen College men's cross country team at the NAIA national championship on November 19, the NAIA national office announced Monday evening.

Cranston is a first-time qualifier, making him the 14th Goshen man and 24th Maple Leaf overall to reach the national cross country meet. Smith qualifies for the fourth season in a row, making him the first Goshen runner to do that; he also holds the school record for the best finish at nationals after coming in 33rd in 2015.

The national meet will be held at the North Farm Cross Country Course in Elsah, Illinois, near St. Louis, on November 19, with the men's race set for 12:30 p.m. EST.

Both runners earned all-conference honors last Saturday at the Crossroads League meet in Marion, Indiana, nabbing individual spots as two of the top four runners in the conference whose teams did not receive national berths. Smith was first overall in 24:41.5 for eight kilometers, the second-fastest time run at an NAIA conference championship this season, while Cranston was second in 25:33.8.

Smith's time was the fastest in school history, shaving nearly 14 seconds off his old mark and giving him the top nine times in GC's record book. Cranston's clocking was the 15th-fastest overall and the fourth-fastest by a freshman: all three faster freshman times and 11 of the 14 faster times overall belong to Smith.

Cranston becomes the sixth freshman in the 41-year history of Goshen cross country to qualify for nationals: three of those six have come in the last six years (Smith in 2013 and Jordan Smeltzer in 2011), and before that spurt the lone GC male freshman to qualify was Mark Plank in 1979.

All told, 24 Goshen runners have earned individual bids to nationals 37 times, with eight runners going more than once. Counting only the men, 14 runners have qualified 20 times: Smith, Smeltzer and Geoff Douglas are the only multiple-time qualifiers, while the team also received a berth in 2014.

Between the two of them, Smith and Cranston hold 17 of Goshen's top 50 times ever, a feat accomplished in just 28 cumulative starts. Smith also holds school records for the fastest time turned in by a freshman, junior and senior, and Cranston has also broken the previous freshman record set by Smeltzer in 2011.

2016 marks the sixth consecutive year that Goshen has sent at least one cross country runner to nationals: between the men and women, the Maple Leafs have sent at least one runner in 14 of the last 17 years, including multiple runners in eight of the last 13.