(Grand Rapids, Mich.) In the annual battle for the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Championship, the Cornerstone Men's Cross Country team had their best race of the year, claiming the runner up spot.
Conditions at Riverside Park were cold and calm, good for fast running. The early pace was quick, but the opening mile of just over five minutes resulted in a lead pack of nearly twenty men, including four from CU. By three miles, little had changed as Travis Mabe, Jared Courtright, Cody Risch and Thomas Bambach held from with a 15:20 split.
In the final two miles Aquinas secured the win, putting their first five in the top ten. Cornerstone countered with seniors, Mabe and Courtright finishing fifth and sixth with Bambach and senior, Cody Risch bookending a blanket nine through twelve group that finished one second apart.
Running in only his second race of the season, Louis Falland placed 19th in 26:13 to complete the team scoring. Tyler Grey, Zach Bourdon and Jared Holmberg raced well together in the seven to nine spots with Grey 37th in 27:31, Bourdon 40th in a PR 27:34 and Holmberg 40th in 27:34. Coach Nate Van Holten was very pleased with the outcome, "The guys raced great today, especially the seniors. They ran like they wanted to get to nationals."
Mabe and Courtright earned All-Conference honors for finishing in the top seven, while Bambach and Risch were second team All-WHAC. Bourdon and Mabe were named to the Academic All-Conference team. Bourdon was also the team Champions of Character nominee.
Aquians defended their 2011 team title with the same 25 point total as last year. Cornerstone improved to second, up from third last season with 50 points followed by Indiana Tech with 80, Siena Heights at 104 followed by Davenport's 118 and Madonna at 166. University of Michigan-Dearborn had 203 putting them ahead of two new conference teams, Marygrove with 221 and Lawarent Tech at 265.
Mabe, Courtright and Bambach earned individual qualifying spots for the NAIA National Championship in Vancouver, WA on November 17. The 20th ranked Golden Eagles will find out on Monday if they are awarded an at-large berth as a team.