The Goshen College men’s cross country team traveled to Marian, Indiana on Friday, November 6 where they competed in the Crossroads League Championship.
The highlight of the weekend was when Goshen College sophomore Nelson Kemboi was crowned Crossroads League champion, posting a time of 25 minutes and 4.9 seconds in the 8k race.
Kemboi crossed the finish line five seconds faster than his next opponent.
Kemboi’s time hoisted him to the eighth fastest time in program history. Kemboi has also set the mark for the fastest time as a sophomore ever recorded by a Maple Leaf.
“Winning the Crossroads League meet was really awesome given the fact that l had never competed in this conference before,” Kemboi said. “When I crossed the finish line, I was like ‘Oh, I made it!’ I felt strong again. I also thought of all the hard work I had been putting in, hard work pays off and it doesn’t go without reward!”
The impressive performance by Kemboi earns the sixth individual Crossroads League Championship win in the history of the Maple Leaf cross country program.
“Nelson is successful because he works very hard and is a very intelligent racer. He is strong and patient,” Rustin Nyce, crossleagues coach, said. “There isn’t really one thing that made him win the conference, but a combination of hard work, strength, intelligence and drive. He is a great athlete and person.”
The Goshen College men’s team did not fare quite as well as Kemboi did individually.
Nearest to Kemboi was sophomore teammate Edwin Kimutai, who posted a time of 26 minutes and 44.3 seconds. Kimutai’s time was good enough for a 27th place finish overall.
The men’s team still pulled out a sixth place finish anchored by Kemboi’s record time.
Two hours earlier, the women’s cross country team ran on that same course in Marian, Indiana.
The women’s cross country team was led by its two standout first years, Summer Cooper and Annika Fisher.
Cooper clocked her third-best time of the season finishing the 5k race with a time of 19 minutes and 18.5 seconds. Cooper was the 17th runner to cross the finish line in the Crossroads League Championship.
“It felt really good to be able to help the team get a good placing and to be a part of such a competitive team,” Cooper said.
Fisher was just 11 seconds behind her teammate where she placed 20th in her first league championship. Fisher logged a time of 19 minutes and 29.8 seconds.
“It was fun to come in as a new GC runner with Summer and train together and finish top two for the team at the race. It’s been rewarding to see everyone’s progress this season,” Fisher said.
The women’s cross country team placed sixth overall in the Crossroads League Championship.
“On the women’s side we only graduate one runner,” Nyce said. “They made a jump from finishing last, last year to finishing sixth. It is a really exciting time for them. The women’s XC program is going to continue to improve. With our top two runners being first-years it provides some stability to grow around.”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding this fall sports season, Nyce was proud of the way his team competed.
“Despite all the obstacles thrown at these teams, from all directions, all year I am very proud of each athlete and each team,” he said. “We try to focus on controlling what we can – our attitude and effort. The teams care about what they do and they work hard.”
The men’s and women’s cross country teams will be back into their offseason workouts until April 9 when they will compete in the NAIA National Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.