On Friday, the men’s and women’s cross-country teams competed in the Crossroads League Tournament in Shelbyville, IN, in the last race before the NAIA National Championships, which will take place in Tallahassee, Florida, on Nov. 18.

The 36-team field for the championships was announced on Tuesday. The men finished 26th in the rankings, good enough for an at-large bid and a spot in the national finals.

The top 30 teams are eligible for an at-large bid. The women finished with a ranking of 31st, missing nationals by the slimmest of margins.

On Saturday, though, the team finished in fifth place overall with six runners finishing within the top 50. Leading the Leafs were juniors Naomi Ross Richer (17th, 18:56) and Summer Cooper (18th, 19:02). 

Following the pack was junior Annika Alderfer Fisher (34th, 19:45). Junior Celeste Arroyo (44th, 20:21) completed the scoring for the team. The other two runners to finish in the top 50 were junior Mia Wellington (46th, 20:24) and first-year Nataly Esqueda (48th, 20:27). 

Overall, the Goshen women scored 138 points and finished above Saint Francis, Marian, Spring Arbor, Mount Vernon Nazarene and Bethel.

The men’s team finished in sixth place overall, with five runners placing within the top 50. This was the first race that the team has competed in since learning of the passing of teammate Ezra Kipruto.

Fifth-year student Liam Elias (18th. 26:19) led the Goshen men and was the first to place for the team. Finishing just two seconds behind him was first-year Drew Hogan (19th, 26:21).

Other top 50 contenders for the team included senior Jackson Steinmetz (28th, 26:47), first-year Anthony Roberts (29th, 26:50) and sophomore Jordan Garlinger (50th, 27:39). The men scored 137 points en route to the national championships.

Although disappointed that the women were not selected, Nyce was glad that the men had this opportunity after losing Ezra Kipruto Kogei midway through the year. “The guys have been through a lot,” he said.

Steinmetz agreed. “I’m very excited to be returning to nationals,” he said. “This year has made me think deeply about what it really means to be successful and what’s important, and it feels like an important way to honor Ezra and keep his spirit active in what we’re doing.”