2016 MIAC Men's Cross Country Championships Preview

2016 MIAC Men's Cross Country Championships Preview

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2016 MIAC MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS PREVIEW

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) will crown its 2016 men's cross country champion Saturday at noon at Como Golf Course in St. Paul, Minn. St. Olaf College enters the meet on a "drive for five" while the rest of the conference hopes to finally run the Oles half-decade at the top.

St. Olaf has built a dynasty, not only in the MIAC but also in all of Division III, over the past four years. Head Coach Phil Lundin's squad has won four-straight MIAC titles and look to make it five in a row in 2016. Hamline won three in a row before that, and since 2007 only the Oles (five) and Pipers (three) have hoisted the MIAC championship trophy.

 After the Oles (34 points), the men's championship was highly competitive a year ago, with Saint John's (96) edging Carleton (99) and St. Thomas (107) and Gustavus (109) for second, as just 13 points separated spots two through five in the standings. Bethel (160) finished sixth, Hamline (194) was seventh, Saint Mary's (214) took eighth, and Macalester (228), Augsburg (255) and Concordia (329) rounded out the final three spots of the men's 2015 MIAC standings.

This season, the Oles are again the prohibitive favorite, and are the only MIAC team currently ranked in the USTFCCCA national poll. St. Olaf is ranked No. 16 in the nation and No. 2 in the Central Region. Gustavus has had an outstanding fall as well and is ranked No. 5 in the region, and has appeared in the national rankings several times this season as well. Saint John's is the region's seventh-ranked team, and St. Thomas (No. 10) gives the MIAC four of the top 10 in the Central Region. 

Individually, the men's side will have a lot of new faces at the top of the leader board, as the top eight runners from 2015 all graduated, but seven of 15 All-Conference runners and six of 10 HM honorees are back.

St. Olaf returns has five returning runners that earned either All-MIAC or Honorable Mention honors last season. Joe Coffey and Keith Ketola both had top-12 finishes a year ago, and Sean Bjork earned Honorable Mention honors. Saint John's has Ryan Bugler (All-MIAC) back to lead the way in 2016 and he's joined by senior Brandon Franta and Maxwell Kuzara. 

St. Thomas will be led by senior Trevor Smith, sophomore Allen-Michael Burback and first-year runner Spencer Urick. Gustavus has a pair of All-MIAC finishers back in Evan Jones – the top returner after finishing ninth in 2015 – and Thomas Knobbe – who has been named MIAC Athlete-of-the-Week twice this fall, as well as senior Carston Dammann, who earned Honorable Mention honors in 2015. 

All-MIAC HM runner Jovan Newsum is back to lead Saint Mary's, and juniors Austin O'Hare and Brandon Krogman round out the Cardinals' top three. Macalester and Augsburg also have an HM selection back thanks to the return of Lachlan Hinwood and Abdul Salan, respectively. The Scots will also be led by sophomores Spencer Grant and Chris Boranian, and the Auggies have a senior laden lineup, with Chris Huss and Andrew McGillvary joining Salan in the lineup. 

Carleton's Jerry Cook-Gallardo (HM) will be studying abroad this fall, so the Knights' will look to sophomore Tris Dodge, rookie Cameron Meikle and junior Hiroshi Nakajima to lead the way. Bethel brings back its No. 2 runner in sophomore Evan Hatton, and fellow sophomore Anders Rasmussen hopes his track success translates to the cross country course as well. Hamline's James Logan is back after just missing HM honors in 2015, and he'll be joined by freshman Fernando Benitez and sophomore Kyle Mehrhof, and Concordia will be led by the senior duo of Matthew Lillehaugen and Brandon Quibell, and also have high hopes for rookie runner Eric Wicklund.

The 2016 MIAC Cross Country Championships will start earlier than in past years. The women's 6k championship race will begin Saturday's meet at 11 a.m. and the men's 8k race will follow at 12 p.m. Once the results are tabulated and deemed final, a short awards ceremony will follow the conclusion of the men's race on the hillside near the clubhouse. The top 15 runners in each race will be honored as All-Conference selections, with runners finishing in places 16-to-25 receiving All-Conference Honorable Mention. The two team champions will also be honored and awarded their championship plaque.

Spectators are encouraged to attend the event and admission is free. All spectators are reminded to stay out of the runners' way on the course, and no dogs, bikes or artificial noisemakers are allowed on the course.

The MIAC has a home page for the event, which will be the first place to find results, recaps, photos and more online following the conclusion of the championships. The page also includes course maps for both the men's and women's races, directions to Como Golf Course and other helpful links. Macalester College is serving as the host institution for this year's championship and athletic training services will be provided by MIAC partner Twin Cities Orthopedic. 

In addition to the preview, the MIAC also released a promotional video Wednesday to promote the big race. Fans can stay connected throughout the 2015 MIAC Cross Country Championships on social media through the MIAC's Facebook page, Instagram account or on Twitter using the hashtag #MIACXC.

| 2016 MIAC Cross Country Championships Home Page |


2016 MIAC CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS PROMO VIDEO


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TEAM-BY-TEAM PREVIEWS

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AUGSBURG | Auggies' men's cross country home page | 

Head Coach
• Meghan Peyton (3rd season)

A Year Ago
• 10th place | 255 points

In the 2015 Postseason
• 19th/29 at NCAA Central Regional (491); Mohamed Mohamed 25th and Abdul Salan 26th to earn All-Region honors.

Players to Watch
• Abdul Salan (SR | Top-10 individual finishes in all four races this season; Finished 6th at UW-River Falls 8K on 9/9 in 27:01.5, 10th at Carleton 8K on 10/1 in 26:18.1; Career-best 8K time is 25:58.7; All-MIAC Honorable Mention in 2015 with 24th-place finish; NCAA All-Central Region in 2015 with 26th-place finish.)
• Chris Huss (SR | No. 2 runner for Auggies; Season-best 28:14.9 at Carleton 8K on 10/1; Career-best 8K time is 27:34.5; 67th at 2015 MIAC meet.)
• Andrew McGillvary (SR | Augsburg's No. 3 runner at Carleton 8K on 10/1, finishing in 29:14.4; Career-best 8K time is 26:46.7.)

Did You Know?
• Abdul Salan placed second at the St. Catherine Invitational on Oct. 8, his third second-place individual finish of his career. He finished second at the Augsburg home meet in both 2015 and 2014.


BETHEL | Royals' men's cross country home page | 

Head coach
• Joe Stephens (2nd season)

A Year Ago
• 6th place | 160 points

In the 2015 Postseason
• Matt Berens, 9th place, NCAA DIII Championships (Graduated)

Players to Watch
• Evan Hatton (Soph. | Team's top returner, All-MIAC Honorable Mention/NCAA qualifier, track and field)
• Anders Rasmussen (Sophomore | MIAC Indoor and Outdoor qualifier, track and field)

Did You Know?

• The team (or their shorts, rather) were recently featured in The Clarion, Bethel's student newspaper.


CARLETON | Knights' men's cross country home page | 

Head coach
• Dave Ricks (10th season)

A Year Ago
• 3rd place |  99 points

In the 2015 Postseason
• 10th at NCAA Central Region Championships

Players to Watch
• Tris Dodge (So. | finished among Carleton's top-two runners at every meet in 2016; finished 36th at last year's MIAC Championships)
• Cameron Meikle (Fy. | Carleton's top finisher at two of the three meets at which he competed this fall.)
• Hiroshi Nakajima (Jr. | typically the Knights' third-best racer, he placed 42nd at 2015 MIAC Championships.)

Did You Know?
• The Carleton men have won 10 consecutive USTFCCCA All-Academic Awards. During the 2015 season, the Knights posted a 3.53 cummulative team GPA.


CONCORDIA | Cobbers' men's cross country home page |

Head coach
• Garrick Larson (20th season)

A Year Ago
• 11th place | 329 points 

In the 2015 Postseason
• Finished 25th at the NCAA Central Region Meet.  

Players to Watch
• Matthew Lillehaugen (Sr. | Fourth-place finish at the Cobber Invite;  has been in the Top 3 of the team in all six meets in 2016) 
• Brandon Quibell (Sr. | Has led the team in four of the five meets he has raced this year; third-place finish at the Cobber Invite)
• Eric Wicklund (Fr. | Fifth-place finish at the Crown Invite; has been in the Top 3 of the team in all six meets in 2016) 

Did You Know?
• Senior Matthew Lillehaugen earned CoSIDA Academic All-American honors last spring. 

GUSTAVUS | Gusties' men's cross country home page |

Head coach
• Dale Bahr (8th season)

A Year Ago
• 5th place | 109 points

In the 2015 Postseason
• NCAA postseason results – Finished 6th of 29 at the NCAA Central Regional Meet

Players to Watch
• Thomas Knobbe (Sr. | Two-time MIAC Athlete of the Week, 2015 USTFCCCA All-Central Region Honoree, 2014 and 2015 MIAC All-Conference, second place-Crown Invite, Third place-St. Olaf invite, 1st place Gustie Alumi Meet, Gustavus Athlete of the Month-September)
• Evan Jones (Sr. | co-captain, top-10 crown invite, third place Gustie alumni meet, 2015 All-Conference)
• Carston Dammann (Sr. | co-captain, 2015 All-Conference Honorable Mention, top-19 finish at Crown College Invite)

Did You Know?

• The Gustie Men's Cross Country team entered the USTFCCCA Division III National Coach's Poll for the first time since November of 1990, ranking No. 23 in the week two poll, September 21. 

HAMLINE l Pipers' men's cross country home page l

Head coach
• Devin Monson (1st season)

A Year Ago
• 7th place (194 points)

In the 2015 Postseason
• Ryan Peterson was 205th at NCAA D-III Meet last year

Players to Watch
• James Logan, Senior -- Top finisher in every meet HU has been in this year. Won St. Catherine Invitational; 25th at last year's MIAC meet
• Fernandoo Benitez, Freshman -- placed 13th in his first college meet ever at Wis-River Falls
• Kyle Mehrhof, Sophomore -- has been consistenty in Hamline's top three in meets this fall

Did You Know?
• Hamline's 10th place at Wis-La Crosse two weeks ago was a three place jump from the year before.

MACALESTER | Scots' men's cross country home page |

Head coach
• Matt Haugen (14th season)

A Year Ago
• 9th place | 228 points

In the 2015 Postseason
• NCAA postseason results – 17th of 29 teams at Central Region Meet

Players to Watch

• Lachlan Hinwood (Sr. | 2015 MIAC honorable mention (18th); 6th at Griak 2016)
• Spencer Grant (So. | Macalester's #1 or #2 runner in all four of his races in 2016)
• Chris Boranian (So. | In the Scots' top 3 in 4 of 6 races in 2016)

Did You Know?

• Macalester has eight underclassmen among its top 10 runners, with five sophomores and three first years.

SAINT JOHN'S | Johnnies' men's cross country home page |

Head coach
• Tim Miles (38th season)

A Year Ago
• Second place | 96 points

In the 2015 NCAA Championships
• Seventh out of 27 teams at NCAA Regional, Thomas Feichtinger '16 – 89th out of 280 runners at NCAA Championship

Runners to Watch
• Ryan Bugler (Sr. | Earned All-MIAC distinction with an 11th-place finish at the 2015 MIAC Championship…All-Region with a 30th-place finish at the 2015 NCAA Central Regional…has led SJU at all four of its races this fall…top MIAC finisher at the UW-Eau Claire Invitational Sept. 30 and the second-fastest runner from the conference at the UW-La Crosse Invitational Oct. 15…2016 NCAA Division III national outdoor champion in the steeplechase) 
• Brandon Franta (Sr. | Finished 27th at the 2015 MIAC Championship and 95th at the 2015 NCAA Central Regional…finished 64th at the UW-La Crosse Invitational Oct. 15)
• Maxwell Kuzara (Sr. | Finished 67th at the 2015 NCAA Central Regional…finished 60th at the UW-La Crosse Invitational Oct. 15)

Did You Know?

• Last year's second-place finish was SJU's best at the MIAC Championship since it won back-to-back conference titles in 2006 and 2007.

SAINT MARY'S | Cardinals' men's cross country home page |

Head coach
• Ward Berndt (12th season)

A Year Ago
• 8th place | 214 points

Players to Watch

• Jovan Newsum (Senior | Two-time honorable-mention All-MIAC; Ran his fastest 8K time of the season—26:14—at the Jim Drews Invitational on Oct. 15. … Has been the team's top runner in each of the Cardinals' last three races)
• Austin O'Hare (Junior | One of Cardinals' top 2 runners in all four events this season. … Owns season-best time of 27:09 at Carleton Pre-Regional)
• Brandon Krogman (Junior | Has been in the top three in each of the Cardinals' four races this season. … Recorded a season-best 8K time of 27:54 at the UW-River Falls Open)

Did You Know?

• Jovan Newsum collected his second straight honorable-mention All-MIAC honor at last year's MIAC Championships, clocking a team-best time of 26:45 to place 16th overall.

ST. OLAF | Oles' men's cross country home page |

Head coach
• Phil Lundin (9th season)

A Year Ago
• MIAC Champions | 34 points

In the 2015 Postseason
• NCAA Central Region Champions with 62 points… Finished fourth place at the NCAA Championships, scoring 211 points.

Players to Watch

• Joe Coffey (Senior | 10th at the 2015 MIAC XC Championships… 6th at the 2016 Outdoor 1500 NCAA Championships)
• Keith Ketola (Junior | 12th at the 2015 MIAC XC Championships… 15th at the NCAA Central Regional Championships… 103rd at NCAA Championships)
• Sean Bjork (Senior | Was 23rd at the 2015 MIAC Championships… 11th at the 2016 Outdoor NCAA 1500 Championships)

Did You Know?
• The Oles have won the last four MIAC Championships in cross country.

ST. THOMAS | Tommies' men's cross country home page |

Head coach
• Pete Wareham (24th season)

A Year Ago
• 4th place | 107 points

In the 2015 Postseason
• NCAA postseason results – 9th of 29 at regional championships

Players to Watch
• Trevor Smith (Sr., | MIAC Athlete of the Week Oct. 18 after running 25:08 8K; placed 39th, 30th and 36th in three previous MIAC Championship meets)
• Allen-Michael Burback (So., | 79th at MIACs, 121st at regionals as freshman in 2015)
• Spencer Urick (Fr., | Improved 8K time this fall from 28:04 to 27:22 to 25:52 in three fall races)

Did You Know?

• Allen-Michael Burback (79th) and Mike Ryan (83rd) were the Toms No. 17 and 18 finishers at the 2015 conference meet, but have soared into the team's top five this fall.

MIAC Men's Cross Country Home Page