VANCOUVER, WA (11/20) After a week of wet weather, the Sun emerged moments before the start of the NAIA Men's Cross Country Championships. The 22nd ranked Cornerstone University Men's team, positioned themselves in starting box 34 as 326 men spread across the long painted stripe on the Parade Grounds at Fort Vancouver.
Senior, Zach Ripley shot to the front as a lead pack of eight got clear of the rest of the field. Working through the first of four 2,000 meter circuits, Ripley reached the mile mark in 4:39 and in tenth place. By two miles things had spread out considerably with Zach moving up two spots.
In the third mile, Kennedy Kithuka of Wayland Baptist broke away from the field. Ripley passed 3 miles in 14:59, now in sixth. In the final two miles he held his position, passing Silas Kisorio of Oklahoma Christian, and getting passed by Eastern Oregon's DJ Flores.
Ripley hit the finish line in 25:02, matching his place from 2009 and earning All-America honors for the third time. Zach concludes his career as the first Cornerstone male cross country runner to qualify for nationals four times. Equally notable, he is the first to accompany four teams to the national meet, leading two of them.
The rest of the Golden Eagles raced well through the crowded field. Senior, Alex Green finished 70th in 26:13, exactly the same spot as last year. Sophomores Travis Mabe and Jared Courtright finished just six seconds, but twelve places apart with Mabe taking 160th in 27:10 and Courtright 172nd in 27:16. Cody Risch finished one step ahead of Peter Kaijala as the pair placed 242nd and 243rd in 28:02 and 28:03. Kris Shear was 258th in 28:13.
The Golden Eagles matched their ranking, finishing 22nd with 477 points, one place ahead of 2009. Southern Oregon won the team title scoring 105.