Vancouver, Wash. – The 17th-ranked Bryan College Cross Country team traveled west to compete in the NAIA Cross Country Championship on Saturday. The Lions came away with a near top-ten finish as they closed out the fall season with an 11th-place effort. The AAC Champions were led by the lone senior Bryson Harper (Sequatchie County HS, Tenn.) who claimed his third All-American award by crossing the line in 10th place with a time of 24:19 over the eight kilometer layout. Harper was 27th a year ago.
“Bryson continues to the raise the bar for our program and is a great example to our young men with his commitment to excellence. He ran a smart race and picked a lot of guys off the last three kilometers. He will be missed on the course; however, he has some great opportunities this winter and spring on the track,” stated Head Coach Rodney Stoker.
Junior Jason McLeod (Ocoee, Fla.) improved on his 57th finish last year and took 40th overall with a 25:07 clocking. AAC Freshman of the Year Connor Hatfield turned in a performance of 25:23, which was 53rd overall and 40th in the team standings. Connor was the 5th freshman to cross the line on Saturday.
“It was a great day for our group. We are starting to find some consistency on the national scene and it is our hope that we can build on this momentum and inch closer to a podium spot in the next couple of years. Jason and Connor both turned in exceptional performances and it is nice to have them compete so well on the most important day of the cross country season,” Stoker continued.
Anthony Simpson (Father Ryan, Tenn.) and Alex Stephens (Cleveland HS, Tenn.) rounded out the scoring for the Lions with finish times of 26:15 and 26:22 which had them finish 108th and 117th in the team standings. Competing in their first championship were freshmen Madison Yates (Walker Valley HS, Tenn.) and sophomore Anders Clarke (McCallie School, Tenn.) with both having strong performances.
“Anthony has had a bothersome Achilles, but really came through for the group. Alex was a little off in what we were expecting, although he battled to the line and will learn a great deal from his experience. Madison and Anders continue to develop and should do more of the same on the track in 2012,” commented Stoker.
The Lions will now turn their attention to the indoor season. A small group will travel to Liberty University on December 2-3 to compete at the Liberty Kick Off to start the season.