With just 16 seconds separating the Forester men from a Mid-Central Conference Championship a year ago, the HU harriers left no doubt as to who the best team was this season winning the title by 18 points over the defending champs Indiana Wesleyan.
Nick Johnson continued his standout year being crowned the MCC Conference Champion after winning the race by 15 seconds over his closest competitor. His time of 24:59.5 matched his personal best. But Johnson didn't win the title on his own, he got a lot of help from several other teammates, four of whom set personal records in the race. Joseph Njeri finished fourth in 25:25.6 to improve on his personal best. Dan Lindbloom was sixth with a PR time of 25:49.9. Joseph Herber (11th; 26:04.7) and Luke Diehl (13th; 26:22.7) also set new personal bests to round out the scoring for HU.
Other runners competing for HU included Josh Barnett (40th; 28:00), Alec Rosario (41st; 28:03), Luke Andrews (72nd, 29:26) and David Boyer (86th; 31:14).
With the top 12 finishers in the race earning MCC All-Conference honors, the Foresters first four runners, Johnson, Njeri, Lindbloom and Herber, each earned the special recognition.
"The team is very pleased," said MCC Coach of the Year, Tom King. "There were a couple of personal bests and some really solid performances. They've performed well all year and they expected to do well today and they did."
By placing five runners among the top 13 finishers, the Foresters won the title with a team score of 35 followed by Indiana Wesleyan (53), Taylor (72), Spring Arbor (115), Bethel (124), Marian (146), Goshen (152), and St. Francis and Grace (229).
It is the fourth time in school history that the men's program has won the conference championship, but just the first time that doing so automatically qualifies them to compete in the NAIA Cross Country National Championships. A change in NAIA playoff structure eliminated the Regional Championship that was the path to nationals in prior years. The national championships will be held in Kenosha, Wisconsin on November 22.
In women's action, the Foresters finished eighth of nine teams with a score of 215. Jill Roughia was HU's top finisher in 26th place with a time of 20:06. Bradie Vance was 52nd in 21:12. Molly Shirey crossed the line in 62nd place in 21:32. Britley McConnell finished 68th in 21:39 and Joanna Stebing was 96th in 23:17.
Indiana Wesleyan won the women's team title with a score of 49 followed by Spring Arbor (60), Bethel (84), Grace (113), Taylor (118), St. Francis (178), Goshen (196), HU (215) and Marian (232).
"The women haven't beaten very many teams this year," said Coach King. "Every team here had beaten us and the women did the best they could. I was happy to see them be very competitive. A couple of them also ran their best times this season."