The Goshen College men’s cross country team placed third and the women ninth at the Crossroads League conference championship meet at Taylor University last Saturday. The men also had seven runners finish in the top 50, including two in the top 20.
Vincent Kibunja, a junior, finished third with a time of 26:29.3, qualifying him for his second straight NAIA cross country championship. Kibunja also achieved his second straight all-conference honor after finishing in the top 15 overall.
Liam Ellias, a first-year, finished in 16th-place with a time of 27:24.7, the best individual placement of his career. Elias also made the all-conference team alongside Kibunja.
The other six Maple Leafs who finished in the top 50 were junior Juan Perez, who finished 30th with a time of 27:55.3; senior Gerardo Abad, who finished 33rd with a time of 28:01.4; junior Max Burkholder, in 35th place and time of 28:02.6; sophomore Salvador Escamilla, in 36th place at 28:02.7; and junior Ryan Hagerty, who finished 47th with a time of 28:28.7.
The Maple Leafs had two runners close up their season with best times. Senior Alex Steiner finished out his college career with a season-best of 31:47.1, while first-year Jonah Hochstetler achieved a career-best with a time of 32:09.2.
Juniors Luke Geiser and Ryan Haggerty were both seconds away from claiming season bests.
In the women’s race, Goshen had three runners in the top 100, paced by sophomore Sierra Ross Richer. Richer finished 35th with a time of 20:02.5, a new career best.
The other two runners that finished in the top 100 were junior Siana Emery and sophomore Ariana Perez Diener.
Emery finished 62nd with a time of 21:03.3, which was a new career best and best-placed finish. Emery cut through 40 positions and took 18.9 seconds off her previous season best that was set two weeks ago at the NAIA Great Lakes Challenge. Diener followed two places behind Emery with a time of 21:08.9.
Kibunja will represent the Maple Leafs at the NAIA National Championship meet, which will take place on Friday, Nov. 16, at 12:30 p.m. in Clear Rapids, Iowa. Kibunja’s appearance will continue an eight-year streak of the men’s team reaching the national meet.