Just one race into the 2020 fall season, the Goshen College men’s cross country team has cracked the top 25 in the coaches’ preseason poll. 

The Goshen College Maple Leafs, along with four additional Crossroads League opponents, landed in the top 25. As of Oct. 1, the Goshen College men’s cross country team finds themselves sitting at 18th in the nation. 

Head coach Rustin Nyce talked about the preseason ranking. 

“Preseason rankings are nice, but we find more significance on rankings based on performance,” he said. “Being ranked in the preseason does show that Goshen is respected nationally.”

The preseason polls are determined by the teams performance from a season ago, as well as their incoming recruits and retainment from their team from last fall.

This is not unfamiliar territory for the men’s cross country team. Last season, the Maple Leafs were ranked all season long. The Maple Leafs team was ranked as high as 17th a season ago, but finished the season in 20th. 

The lone meet of the season for the men’s cross country team this fall was the Indiana Wesleyan Twilight Classic on Sept. 11. The meet in Marion, Indiana resulted in a sixth place finish for the team. 

Nelson Kemboi, first-year runner, had a stand out performance in his first ever collegiate race. 

Kemboi ran a 26 minute and 12.4 second 8-kilometer race, just 15 seconds off of cracking into the top 50 of the Goshen College men’s cross country records. Kemboi wound up placing 22nd at the meet and ranked sixth among first-years and sophomores that competed in the race.  

“My first meet was fantastic,” Kemboi said. “I felt like I did not struggle at all to hit my time despite the fact that it was my first collegiate meet.”

Even with an impressive first performance, Kemboi was not satisfied with the results. 

“This season I am aiming to run 24s [minutes] in 8k,” he said. “My goal this season is to break the school record.”

The men’s cross country team is facing a very condensed fall sports season due to COVID-19. 

Nyce talked about the drive that not only Kemboi has, but one that his team has shown all season long.

“They’ve been working hard since March to get to this point to race again,” Nyce said. “The whole team is glad to be together and working hard with each other.” 

The expectation for the men’s team is once again “nationals or bust” after a trip there a season ago. 

“They know what it looks like to compete at nationals and they want to do that again, that fuels their training,” Nyce said. 

The men’s cross country team hopes to climb the national rankings as their next meet approaches. The team is back in action Friday, Oct. 9 when they compete in the Bethel Invitational.