The Slippery Rock men’s cross country team finished fourth place in a heartbreaking manner at the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional Championship at Lock Haven University last Saturday.
The Rock was neck and neck with East Stroudsburg University and the home squad of Lock Haven until the very end of the race. To decide the results of second through fourth place, officials had to use video replay.
The top five individual runners and top three teams earn a spot at the NCAA Division II National meet.
Edinboro University dominated the race, taking home first place with 34 points and placing five runners in the Top-10 .
After video review, officials declared that East Stroudsburg and Lock Haven tied for second with 95 points, and Slippery Rock finished fourth with 97 points.
“It was our best race of the season,” senior Eric Geddis said. “But to be the team on the border that doesn’t get to go to nationals is a horrible feeling. We were pretty bummed out.”
The determining factor in the results were the front runners of each team.
Slippery Rock’s top five runners all finished ahead of both East Stroudsburg’s and Lock Haven’s fifth place runners.
Senior Alex Koksal was crushed when he heard the final results and that the Rock just barely missed qualifying for nationals.
“When the six of us crossed the line so close together, we thought we had it locked up,” Koksal said. “We were pumped. for a short time.”
Slippery Rock and Edinboro were the only two teams to have all five scorers earn All-Region honors, which requires a top-25 finish.
Sophomore Chris Grooms was the first SRU runner to cross the finish line, coming in 12th place, finishing the course in 31:45.
Geddis finished his final competition with one of his best races, crossing the finish line in second for the Rock, coming in 18th with a time of 31:59.
Finishing 21st for the Green and White with a strong finish was junior Morgan Elliott, running a time of 32:02.
Immediately after Elliott was junior Travis Arrigoni at 22nd and Koksal at 24th, both running 32:03.
Junior Michael Beegle just missed All-Region honors with his 27th place finish in 32:14.
The Rock’s distance runners will now begin to focus on the indoor track season, with their first meet on the first weekend of December.