Lakeland, FL- The Berea College men's cross country team competed at the 2015 USCAA Men's Cross Country National Championship in Lakeland, FL. The Mountaineers outran the competition and placed first in the race against 23 other teams, giving them the title of 2015 National Champions. The team finished with a total time of 2:16:27, with the second place team and the former four time defending national champions SUNY-ESF finishing close to seven minutes behind the Mountaineers. Emmanuell Kemmei, who as a freshman finished in 28th place and fifth on the team at the 2014 USCAA Men's Cross Country National Championship, earned the title as the 2015 USCAA Men's Cross Country Individual Champion in a rapid and impressive turnaround.
Berea had four of the top five finishers in the race, with Kemmei at 26:32, Jeremy Johnson in second place with a time of 26:42, a third place finish for Logan McKenzie 26:52 and Isisah Dodson finishing in fifth place with a time of 27:42. Other finishers for the men included Dylan Watkins with a 14th place finish with a time of 28:36, Tanner Carson's 27th place finish (29:37) and finishing with a time of 31:51 was Casey Monti, which put him in 53rd on the board.
With their finishing spot, Kemmei, Johnson, McKenzie and Dodson all earned the honor of being named First Team USCAA Men's Cross Country All-Americans, while Watkins was recognized as a member of the Second Team USCAA Men's Cross Country All-American. Head coach Mike Johnson was also named USCAA National Coach of the Year.
Florida had record high temperatures as the start gun went off at 11:00 AM for the men. The course consisted of two loops, one large and one smaller. Because of the heat several runners were not able to finish and several had to be taken to the hospital and treated. Two of those were Berea College runners that impressively finished the race. Both student-athletes have been released from the hospital and are recovering well.
"Coming into the race we knew we had a good shot to win but we did not want to let it slip through our hands again," said assistant coach Shawn Jakubowski. "We knew the heat would play a large factor in the tactics of the race so we prepared ourselves for that by hydrating and coming up with a smart race plan. The men stuck to the plan and really took over on the second loop of the race. The mental toughness of these runners really showed on Friday and they ran the race for each other and left it all out on the course and in the end it paid off. That was a day that the staff and student-athletes will never forget."
The men's cross country team finished the season winning five of their seven meets and was one of the most impressive seasons Berea College cross country has ever had.
Lakeland, FL- The women's cross country team traveled to Lakeland, FL today to compete in the 2015 USCAA Women's Cross Country National Championship. The Mountaineers placed 1st in the field of 23 teams, making them the 2015 National Champions in the USCAA. The Mountaineers scored 46 points with a team time of 2:04.30, three minutes and sixteen seconds faster than the second place team. Cleary was the second place team with a score of 77 followed by SUNY-ESF with 98 points. This is a large improvement for the Berea women coming off a 6th place finish in 2014.
Florida had record high temperatures on the day of the race which made it a very tactical 6K race for the runners. Several runners were not able to finish the race because of the heat but the Mountaineers ran a very smart race and were able to beat the field and the heat. Leading the way for the women was freshman Dove DeNigris. Dove finished in second place overall with a time of 23:59, 25 seconds behind the winner of the race. Mercy Kershner was the second runner for Berea to finish the race with a 24:26 time, placing her in sixth place. Erin Gonterman came in 11th place with a time of 24:59. Two other women, Gabrielle Sawyer and Gabriella Sabino finished consecutively after each other, 15th and 16th, with times of 25:32 and 25:33, respectively.
Other finishers for the women were Jenna Hughes finishing 21st with a time of 26:05 and a 40th place finish for Olamide Adejuma with a time of 27:26.
With their finishes, DeNigiris and Kershner earned the honor of being named First Team USCAA Women's Cross Country All-Americans, while Gonterman earned Second Team USCAA Women's Cross Country All-American status with her finish.
"We had a great workout the week before and coming into the meet we knew if we ran smart and everything clicked we could win," said head coach Shawn Jakubowski. "Prior to leaving for Florida we checked the weather and saw that the heat would play a huge factor so we made sure we were hydrated and we prepared for a very tough mental race. The women stuck to the race plan perfectly and after the first loop I knew we had a great chance. It was a great feeling to see our name at the top of the results board and it was a moment the team and I will never forget, it was a perfect way to end a great season!"
The women's cross country team finished with top ten finishes in all but one of their seven races this season.