The Goshen College men’s cross-country team entered the NAIA National Championship race ranked 26th in the nation.

“Having experience at nationals, we know that a lot of people go out way too hard,” head coach Rustin Nyce said. “In order to not get caught up in that … we raced smart and patient. We went out fast enough, but everybody else went out faster.” 

The race strategy worked well for the Maple Leafs. Between the 1.17 kilometer mark (the first timing checkpoint, where the Leafs sat in 31st position) and the finish line, Goshen’s seven runners combined to pass 581 opponents to finish 22nd overall.

Nelson Kemboi (39th, 24:55) passed 146 runners after the 2.17 kilometer mark to lead the Leafs across the line. With his top-40 finish, Kemboi received All-American honors for his third straight year. 

Drew Hogan (104th, 25:32), a local freshman, crossed the line second with Liam Elias (109th, 25:34) on his tail. All three runners ran season-best times.

Also scoring for the Leafs were Anthony Roberts (182nd, 26:15) and Jordan Garlinger (210th, 26:27). With Jackson Steinmetz (214th, 26:29) finishing sixth for Goshen, the team was rounded out by Kevin Liddell (256th, 26:59).

With a time of 128:44.7, Goshen’s top five runners combined for their second-best total time in program history, topped only by a race from earlier this season when the late Ezra Kipruto raced alongside Kemboi, Hogan, Elias and Steinmetz to combine for a time of 127:26.

“I think everybody ran with a different Ezra memory or idea of a way to honor him,” said Nyce. 

For Steinmetz, that meant carrying his passion forward.

“When we talk about running with Ezra, we run with his passion,” he said. “[But] he wasn’t the guy that was super nervous or anxious about racing or being competitive. He just loved it. And each day running put a smile on his face.”

Nyce was glad his team had the opportunity to honor Kipruto at this race, but also to make the school proud — and he wants to carry that pride into next year.

“We’re doing pretty cool things,” he said. “Our men’s team has been to nationals the last four years; our women’s was the first team out, so they’re right there, ready to go. We want to continue to show people — and show ourselves — that we can compete at a national level.”

While cross country is certainly one team that GC should be proud of, Leafs were recognized across a variety of fall sports within the past week.

For his second straight year, Goshen native Lucas Bontreger was named to the All-Crossroads League First-Team for men’s soccer. The fifth-year forward scored six goals for Goshen this year while collecting three assists. He also scored two game-winning goals, one of just four Crossroads League players to do so.

In 76 games at GC, Bontreger totaled 36 goals — tenth on the all-time Maple Leaf scoring list. 

Women’s soccer defender Karítas María Arnardóttir was named All-Crossroads League Honorable Mention for her second straight year. Arnardóttir started in 17 of the Leafs’ 18 games this year, and played in all of them. The sophomore from Reykjavik, Iceland, helped lead Goshen to five shutouts.

Arnardóttir was also selected to the 2022 Academic All-District team, selected by College Sports Communicators. Five other Maple Leaf soccer players made the team: Jonathan Aaron, Seja Lang, Izabel Love, Anne Nisley and Anita Tavares.

The award is given to athletes who have reached academic sophomore status, have played in at least half of their team’s current season as a “primary contributor,” have played for at least a year at their current college, and have at least a 3.50 cumulative GPA.

Sophomores Jaelyn Amhdar and Sadie Brenneman on the women’s volleyball team also received the Academic All-District nod, as well as being named All-Crossroads League Honorable Mention for the second year in a row. Ahmdar had 305 assists, with 11 aces and 133 digs, while Brenneman had a team-high 328 digs alongside her 265 kills and 14 aces.

Along with Ahmdar and Brenneman, the Leafs had three more players that received an honorable mention: Kassidy Faler, Emily Lynch and Sydney Stutsman. 

Faler had the eighth-best digs per set in the Crossroads League with a team-leading 3.64 average. Faler had 277 digs on the season.

Lynch, in her second year receiving the award, was top 10 in the conference with a .206 hitting percentage. She finished the year leading the team with 2.64 kills per set and 282 kills.

Finally, Stutsman led the team with 639 assists — seventh in the Crossroads League, and more than twice as much as anyone else on the team. Her and Amy Baca led the team with 111 sets played in, and garnered 14 aces and 159 digs.