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EOUís Ryan Booth finished in 125th place at the NAIA national cross country championships in Vancouver, Wash., Saturday. The Mountaineers finished 14th as a team. MADDISON STAPLETON - For The Observer
VANCOUVER, Wash. — Unlike two weeks ago when Mother Nature won, the Eastern Oregon University men’s cross country team got the better end of the stick at the NAIA Cross Country National Championships Saturday at the Fort Vancouver Historical Site.
Rain and a soggy course couldn’t hold back the Mountaineers as they ran to a 14th-place finish over the 8,000-meter course. St. Francis of Illinois (138) upset No. 1-ranked Southern Oregon (153) to pick up the team title.
Eastern finished as the number-three Cascade Collegiate Conference team behind Southern Oregon and the College of Idaho (11th, 330 points). Concordia (17th, 419) gave the CCC four teams in the top 20.
“After a rough conference meet to bounce back mentally and to perform as hard as they did today is a testament to their character,” said Eastern head cross country coach Ben Welch.
“It also proves that they belong at the meet. To come in ranked 22nd and end up 14th, I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The Eastern men were paced by junior Isaac Updike. Updike got out strong at the start of the race and continually worked his way past runners to finish in the 50th spot (25:37).
That moved him up four places from his finish over the same course one year ago.
Freshman Kody Shriver ran like he had most of the season.
“Shriver started conservatively,” Welch said.
“He was our No. 4-runner through most of the first half of the race. From that point he continually moved his way towards the leaders and was able to move himself all the way up to the 76th spot by the time he reached the finish in 25:56.”
Sophomore Hans Roelle ran like he did two weeks ago at the conference meet, where he finished as the No. 3 runner.
His 108th-place finish (26:12) moved him up 24 markers from his finish of last year.
Senior Ryan Booth closed out his collegiate cross country career with a 125th-place finish (26:25).
Booth started strong, running towards the front of a big pack. He was able to maintain that battle through three quarters of the race before he started to fall back.
A strong finish over the last 800 meters allowed him to earn his finishing spot.
Junior Kody Coxen rounded out the Mountaineers top five runners with a 142nd (26:33) finish. Coxen started slowly but moved his way up through the field as the race progressed.
Senior Zach Seely started the race near Coxen and like Coxen continued to work his way up through the pack to finish in 164th (26:43).