The Goshen College men’s cross country team ran over a minute faster at their race last Friday, Sept. 24, than they did at this time last year. For a team seeking to continue its two-year streak of qualifying NAIA for the National Championship, that is  a good sign.  

Goshen’s top five runners (Nelson Kemboi, Liam Elias, Jackson Steinmetz, Jordan Garlinger, and Edwin Kimutai) covered the 8-kilometer course at their second meet of the season in Findlay, Ohio, in a combined 2 hours, 11 minutes, and 39 seconds.  

“That’s not just a little faster,” said Rustin Nyce, head coach for the men’s and women’s cross country teams.  “That’s 15 seconds per person on average faster. We’ve made it (to Nationals) the last few years running slower up to this point.” 

Times alone won’t get the team to Nationals.  What matters is the ranking they receive in the periodic coaches’ polls held by the NAIA.  

The day before the Findlay Oiler Invitational, the Goshen College team was ranked 22nd out of the 25 teams that made the list. That is two spots below their ranking in August, but it would be enough to secure them a place at the National Championship race in Vancouver, WA, in November.  

With two Nationals appearances in the last two years, the men’s team is looking to add to their streak.  Goshen College has never sent a women’s team to the National Championship, but this year’s team hopes to change that. Like the men’s team, the women are running some of the fastest times in program history

This year, the teams are focusing on the theme “belief” to help them work toward their goals.  “Your beliefs dictate your habits and actions,” Nyce said.  So qualifying for Nationals starts with each runner believing they will compete at a nationally competitive level.  

Jordan Garlinger, a first-year exercise science major, finished among the team’s top five runners at the season’s first two meets. 

“The term ‘belief’ to me,” Garlinger said, “means to believe in the training that Rustin is prescribing to each of us and to not only believe in ourselves but to believe in one another.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams will return to the course again this Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Louisville Classic Invitational in Louisville, Ky.  

They will receive their next ranking in the poll scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 7.