Bruins cross-country teams to compete at NCCAA Nationals

The Bruins cross-country teams will wrap up their inaugural season Saturday as they compete in the NCCAA National Championship at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio.

The race will feature seven athletes apiece from the men’s and women’s teams, with the first five runners’ scores registering, the sixth and seventh scores potentially displacing the first five, and the sixth runner acting as a tiebreaker when necessary.

Aaron Iles, Nathan Zakariasen, Daniel Marinelli, Joshua Rush, Jonathan Davis, Joshua Anderson, Andrew Fox and Sam Koenke (alternate) will represent the men. Abby Stanley, Meg Phillipo, Abi Dickinson, Emily Dickinson, Brittany Gibson, Brooke Wells, Kaitlyn Unruh and Rebekah Spannagel (alternate) will run for the women.

The Bruins, coming off first place victories at the Toccoa Falls College Eagle Invitational, are expected to be strong competitors in the national championship meet.

“Both our men and women have the ability to get in the top 15, teamwise,” said Coach Landon Bright. “If the men have a good day and put together some good performances, they might even sneak into the top 10, and the women can certainly be there as well.”

Seniors Iles and Stanley are both looking to earn individual All-American honors by finishing among the top 15 runners in their one and only chance to run in the National Championship. The race will feature competitors from nearly 30 universities in the NCCAA.

“I think there’s a lot of nervous excitement, because none of us has run in a national championship before,” said senior Phillipo. “But we’re just ready to run hard.”

The Bruins had last weekend off, and they have taken a slightly different approach to practice this week in preparation for the tournament. “We’ve been getting up at 5:30 a.m. to run every morning all semester, and we’ve put in all of the miles. It’s time to take some of that back out,” said junior Zakariasen. The Bruins have focused more on speed workouts rather than pounding out the same number of miles, and fresh legs are a priority going into tomorrow’s meet after a long season.

The women will race first at 10 a.m., and the men will follow at 10:45 a.m.