Leafs News
Smith Ends Career As First GC Male All-American
News Photo
Men's Cross Country - Sat, Nov. 19, 2016

ELSAH, Ill. — Ryan Smith capped his college cross country career with the first All-American honor in the history of the Goshen College men's cross country program Saturday afternoon when he finished 21st at the NAIA Men's Cross Country National Championship.

The senior improved by 12 places on his 33rd-place finish from 2015, which was at the time the best national finish by a Maple Leaf men's cross country runner. He completed the eight-kilometer (4.97-mile) course in 25 minutes, 7.5 seconds, 19.5 seconds faster than his 2015 effort in Charlotte, North Carolina.

While Smith is the first GC man to be a cross country All-American, he was preceded four times by two women: Heidi Saunders finished 28th in 2000 while Petrana Petkova came in between 12th and 21st in three straight years from 2004-06. The top 30 runners earn All-American status.

Freshman Steven Cranston made his national debut as well, taking 183rd place in 26:33.3 on the North Farm Cross Country Course.

Smith improved his position steadily throughout the race, climbing from 82nd at the one-mile marker into the top 30 after two miles, meeting the latter checkpoint after 9:54.3. Had he been able to run the entire race at the pace of that second mile, his 24:02.8 time would have blown away the GC school record by almost 29 seconds and placed him third in the nation.

He concludes his career with the top 10 times in school history and 15 of Goshen's 44 times under 26 minutes. Saturday's time is 26 seconds slower than Smith's two-week-old school record, but still more than 20 seconds faster than the 33-year-old mark held by Mark Plank from 1980 to 2013.

Cranston, one of 73 freshmen in the 333-runner field, opened with his two fastest miles of the race: at the two-mile point, he clocked in 137th in 10:13.5. The Canby, Oregon, native dropped to 189th with a 5:42 middle mile before picking up six more spots over the balance of the race.

Cranston finishes his freshman year with three of the top 10 times turned in by a GC first-year runner, a feat made more impressive by the fact that four of the top 10 (including the three ahead of his best) are Smith's. While Smith and Cranston's combined time of 51:40.8 did not crack the top five two-man times in school history, they already own the top two times on that list with performances from earlier in the season.

Jackson Thomas of Bacone College took individual medalist honors in 23:50.2, beating out 2015 champion Geoffrey Kipchumba of William Carey, who was second. Taylor University's Matt Hall, who finished eighth, was the only Crossroads League finisher ahead of Smith. Southern Oregon took the team title with 122 points.

The 2016 season marks the sixth straight year that the Maple Leaf men have sent an individual to the national meet, including qualifying as a team for the first time ever in 2014. While nationals marks the end of the cross country season, track is now just three weeks away as GC opens its slate with a partial-squad meet at Indiana Tech on December 10.