Men win national cross country title - The Lookout - LCC's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1959
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Men win national cross country title

Liam Elder

Sophomore Liam Elder, shown competing at Grand Woods Park in Lansing earlier this season, was one of three LCC Stars to earn All-America honors at the NJCAA National Cross Country Finals in Huntsville, Ala., on Nov. 11. The other All-America runners for LCC were Michael Dennis and Gabriel Phillips. The men won the national meet to grab the team's eighth championship in LCC history.  Photo by Kaitlyn Delaney

Michael Leek

By Michael Leek
Sports Editor

The LCC men’s cross country team became national champions for the eighth time in the school’s history last Saturday, Nov. 11.

The NJCAA National Championship 8K race occurred at John Hunt Park in Huntsville, Ala., and the Stars arrived focused and ready to win.

“The logistics went well, so that put us in a right state of mind to do well in terms of the travel, hotel and the restaurants,” LCC Head Coach Jim Robinson said.

LCC finished the race with 73 points, beating second-place Heartland Community College by five points. Daytona State College finished in third place with 102 points.

Three of the Stars’ runners finished in the top seven and earned All-America honors. Sophomore Michael Dennis finished in second place, running a time of 24:54.80. Sophomore Liam Elder finished sixth at 25:14.60, and sophomore Gabriel Phillips finished right behind Elder in seventh with a 25:16.30 time.

The next three runners to finish for the Stars all were in the top 50. Freshman Quaid Schimetz placed 25th with a time of 25:56.90. Sophomore Aaron Bowerman finished 42nd in 26:36.50 and freshman Evan Suydam was 44th at 26:37.30.

LCC’s seventh and final runner, freshman Brian Keillor, finished 89th with a time of 27:31.40. A total of 291 runners competed in the race.

After winning the race, Elder said the experience of winning nationals was surreal.

“Everyone was crying and I had never been happier,” Elder said. “It was amazing.”

The Stars finished in third place at last year's nationals, and used that as fuel for motivation all through this season.

“LCC has been really close for a few years now and it was a huge deal for us to finally get over that hump,” Dennis said. “We wanted to make sure we were as equipped as possible to prevent something like that from happening again.”

Robinson said he is proud of the team. He said the qualities they have are things that cannot be taught.

“I’ve never had a team that has been as united, together and determined as this group,” Robinson said.

Although the Stars had confidence they could win nationals, Elder said he still was nervous leading up to the race.

“This was the only race of the season that made me nervous, so I just focused on turning those nerves into gratitude,” Elder said. “Being grateful for the opportunity to run for my family.”

The togetherness of the team as a family helped push the members to be the best runners they could be, and kept them motivated throughout the season.

“Our mentality was all about family,” Elder said. “Racing for the family we had just met five months ago. We had to give everything not just for ourselves, but for our brothers as well.”

Added Dennis: “I wanted to be there for my teammates. When workouts were tough or it felt difficult to fit a run in my schedule, I remembered how my teammates were counting on me, just like how I was counting on them.”

As the season comes to an end, Robinson said the team has already been talking about back-to-back titles.

“We got a good group of freshmen who will be sophomores next year and they know what it takes,” Robinson said. “I think that’s one of the key things that is essential if you’re going to have a good team year in and year out, is that your sophomores pass on the culture of your program, and they certainly have done that.”



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