The Slippery Rock men’s cross-country team finished fifth overall at the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Championships Saturday at Lock Haven University.
Out of 20 total teams, Shippensburg finished first with 35 points. Lock Haven and Edinboro took second and third with 41 and 105 points. Indiana and Slippery Rock rounded out the top five teams with 114 and 127 points. Kutztown, East Stroudsburg and Concord took sixth through eighth with 185, 189 and 285 points. West Virginia Wesleyan and California took ninth and tenth with 301 and 304 points.
Dylan Mountain from Lock Haven won the race with a time of 30:27. Mountain was also the winner of the PSAC championship race two weeks ago. Slippery Rock’s very own Jeremy Parsons was the top individual qualifier for Nationals finishing sixth overall with a time of 30:46.4. Parsons, a sophomore here at the Rock, received All Region Honors for the second time in his career for finishing within the top 25 men.
“Last year I was two places away from going to nationals and to be that close to qualifying burned fear into the back of my mind, knowing that if I pushed a little harder I could have made it,” said Parsons. “Going into the race I didn’t want to leave any doubt of earning a spot in the national championships.”
Unlike the regular season races that are 8,000 kilometers, the Regional race is 10,000 kilometers.
“I knew I could stick with the front runners if I could hold it together mentally,” explained Parsons. “Knowing my training was where it needed to be, it was all up to how mentally strong I could be.”
Parsons explained the mental battle he had throughout the race as he pushed his hardest.
“Once the race started it was smooth until the later part of the race where my body began to tell me to quit, but I didn’t want to throw away what I worked so hard for,” Parsons said. “When I crossed the finish line it was all worth it. I am honored to be able to represent Slippery Rock University at nationals, a dream I’ve been chasing all year.”
Parsons is the first male to qualify for nationals since runners Jeff Weiss and Pat Reagan qualified in 2008. Shippensburg, Lock Haven and Edinboro were the top three teams to qualify to compete at the 2015 NCAA National Championship race November 21st in Joplin, Missouri. Top three men not a part of qualifying teams included Parsons, Steve Maine from Kutztown and Alex Hampel from Indiana. These three men will advance to compete in Joplin as well.
Other top finishers for SRU included senior Steve Green and sophomore Jeff Henderson who finished in 32:17.8 and 32:18.3. The two men took 26 and 27 place just missing All Region Honors. Seniors Ryan Thompson and Theo Reynolds rounded out the top five men for the Rock taking 32nd and 36th place with times of 32:30.4 and 32:40.4. Senior Charlie Frank and freshman Andrew Maxwell finished in 63rd and 79th place with times of 33:40.1 and 34:02.4.
“I was very pleased with our men’s performance,” said head coach John Papa. “Jeremy Parsons qualified to compete at nationals and two of our top runners Steve Green and Jeff Henderson just missed All Region Honors. Our team competed well during the championship part of the season and we are all excited that Jeremy will have a chance to run against the best runners in Division II Cross Country.”
This race was the last of the season for the team and the last cross country race ever for the four seniors who competed. As Jeremy Parsons continues training for his nationals debut, the men will rest before beginning their indoor track training.