By Tony Miller
If 2011 was a spark for the Goshen College Men’s Cross Country Team, then 2012 has turned into a bonfire.
In 2011 Jordan Smeltzer, then a first-year, and Oscar Kirwa, then a sophomore, combined to run four of the fastest 20 times in Maple Leaf history.
On Saturday, Men’s Cross Country made history again at the Benedictine Invitational in Ill. Billy Funk, a senior, was the fourth runner across the line, covering the 8,000-meter (4.97-mile) course in 25:43. Moses Kaelo, a sophomore, was sixth in 25:51. Smeltzer, despite being only 22 seconds off his best collegiate time, fell all the way to ninth in 25:59.
On the surface, these are numbers. Compared to the best times in program history, however, they are almost legendary. Funk’s run matched 1990 graduate Geoff Douglas’ career best for sixth-best in Leaf history, coming in 15 seconds off Mark Plank’s 1980 program record. Funk also set the GC record for the fastest time ever run by a senior.
Kaelo’s run is now 11th on Goshen’s all-time list while Smeltzer is now 21st in 11 career races, the sophomore has broken 26 minutes three times.
As a team, the men also performed admirably; they won the meet, defeating 12 other teams for their third first-place full-squad finish of the year. Goshen’s top seven runners finished within 59 seconds of each other: head coach Doug Yoder told GoLeafs.net “I’m not sure that our [1-to-7 spread] times have ever been matched by any other GC team.”
The women finished fourth, buoyed by the fifteenth-place finish of Ali Hochstetler, a sophomore, in 25:43. Three of the Maple Leafs’ top five runners were underclassmen: Cynthia Medina and Irene Schmid, both first-years, were third and fifth on the team with times of 25:12 and 25:19 respectively.
Despite the men’s performance, Goshen held steady at third in the Crossroads League rankings; the women are seventh in their ranking.
Both cross country teams will run again Friday night in South Bend, competing in the Bethel Invitational at St. Patrick’s County Park. The women’s gun will sound at 5 p.m. while the men’s race begins at 5:45.