On a snowy course in Spokane, Washington, the men’s cross country team pulled out a fifth place finish at the NCAA Division II National Championships Saturday.
Sean Gildea was the Orediggers’ top finisher, placing 13th overall in 31:37.9. For Gildea, the performance was his best finish at the national championships and earned him All-American honors.
Behind Gildea, Derek Alcorn placed 23rd (31:53.4) and Russell Drummond came in 27th (31:58.3). Andrew Epperson finished 35th (32:10.2) and Neal Anderson came in directly behind him at 36th (32:13.5) to round out the scoring. Senior Mack McLain finished in 48th (32:31.9) while teammate Tyler Curtis placed 55th (32:41.8).
With 135 points, Mines turned in its lowest and best national championship total in school history. Conference foe Western State College ended up pulling out an upset with 27 points and four of the top ten individual times, defeating three time defending champion Adams State for the team title. Grand Valley State finished in third place with 100 points and Chico State came in directly ahead of the Orediggers with 110 points.
The fifth place finish for Mines was the third straight top five finish for the Orediggers at the National Championships. In 2009, Mines placed third and last year they finished fourth. Mines also had three runners earn All-American honors Saturday, the most in school history for a single season. In Division II, All-American honors are awarded to the top 40 individual finishes at the National Championships, and therefore were awarded to Gildea, Alcorn, and Drummond.
Mines entered the race ranked fourth in the nation and all of the scorers will return for the fall 2012 season. Both the men’s and the women’s teams will continue competition with the indoor track and field season which begins December 9 at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.