For the first time since 2011, the East Central University men's cross country team will be participating in the NCAA Championships as a team after they claimed second-place at the 2015 NCAA Central Regional at the Missouri Southern State "Tom Ruteledge" Cross Country Course.
"It was just a great overall team effort today," said head coach Steve Sawyer. "Juan and Will set the president with both earning a top-five spot and the rest of the team ran great behind them. We are all very excited to compete in the national race in two weeks."
The Tigers finished with 104 points, 22 behind the first-place team from Augustana College (82), who finished third at last year's national championship.
ECU was led by senior Juan-Joel Pacheco Orozco, who was third overall in the 10K race in a time of 30:14.90. Fellow senior Will Baldwin, who was the GAC Male Cross Country Runner of the Year, finished fifth overall in 30:19.70.
Junior Richard Mora was next in 18th (31:11.40), junior Bruce Bragg was 21st (31:14.45), junior Adrian Guvara was 57th (32:10.51), freshman Cole Montgomery was 64th (32:16.01) and freshman Larry Filer was 93rd (32:58.50).
The Tigers are the lone team to reach the national championship from the Great American Conference, with Harding just missing the cut in ninth (239). The league was also represented by Southern Arkansas in 18th (497), Southern Nazarene was 20th (581), and Northwestern was 27th (780).
ECU will now get two weeks off to prepare for the NCAA National Championship race, which will be on the same course from today's regional race. The event is set for Saturday, November 21 in Joplin, Mo., at the MSSU Cross Country Course, with the men's race set to start at 11:15 a.m.