Raider men claim NAIA national title

In just three years, the Southern Oregon men's cross country team has gone from unranked to national champions.

The Raiders earned the program's first-ever NAIA national championship Saturday in Vancouver, Wash., while the SOU women finished a program-best seventh. Together, the two programs won the overall combined championship as well.

"I don't know if I really ever thought we would win a national championship," said SOU head coach Brent Ericksen, who was named NAIA National Men's Coach of the Year. "I know we don't have close to the same scholarships that some of the other teams have, but we were starting something different here three years ago and we got some guys that started to buy in. Ashland's a great place to run and we kept getting guys who believe in what we were doing and also some locals to stick around and run here."

The Raiders, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA Top 25 poll for the last six weeks, used their depth to defeat second-place Wayland Baptist 105-124. Three-time defending national champion Malone finished a distant third at 251.

The Raiders finished with three All-Americans, and had five runners finish in the top 43, while Wayland's top five placers were scattered in the top 115.

Southern Oregon senior David Laney wrapped up his impressive collegiate career with his second straight All-American honor and a fourth-place finish in 24 minutes, 57 seconds. Only Kelly Jensen, who won the individual national championship in 1978, has turned in a better finish in school history.

"David had an amazing race," Ericksen said. "He was the top American finisher and just kept running people down and closing the gap."

Sophomore Zach Elliott continued his amazing postseason performance by finishing 13th in 25:18 to claim his first All-American title.

Junior Ryan Sorenson also finished with All-American honors with a 22nd place finish in 25:35.

For the second straight year, senior Dennis McCaffrey finished 33rd (25:49) and just missed All-American honors, while junior James Johnstone finished 43rd (25:58).

Other finishers for the Raiders included Ryan Ghelfi (47th, 26:02) and Josh Seitz (96th, 26:34).

On the women's side, the 10th-ranked Raiders were led by freshman Summer Cano. Cano finished 37th in a time of 18:41.

Sophomore's Laurie Stoutenburgh (19:01), Seena Frantz (19:05) and Anya Martinez (19:07) finished 64th, 68th and 72nd respectively.

Senior Kristen Juveland finished 121st (19:30), Tara Krempley finished 126th (19:32) and Alexandra Rudd finished 170th (19:50).

The seventh-place team finish was the top finish for a Cascade Conference squad at this year's national meet. The Raiders finished with 255 team points, while Cal State San Marcos won the team title with 88 points.

"The girls did a great job," Ericksen said. "They gave us a shot to win the combined team title. They were ranked fourth in the conference to start the season and end up seventh in the nation. Just an amazing story."

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