By Ed Dean
WILLISTON, Vt. - For four years, LSC Coach Chris Ummer and the Lyndon State College mens cross country team have dreamed of winning the Regional Cross Country championships and going as a team to the Nationals. On Saturday, their dream became a reality as the Hornets won the NAIA Northeast Regional Cross Country Championships for the first time in the college's history.
NAIA Northeast Regional Cross Country Championships
The Hornets clinched the title by beating their closest competitors Houghton College and Robert Wesleyan - two quality teams who have been to Nationals consistently over the years.
The Hornets championship winning run at the Regional race qualifies them to compete in the National NAIA Cross Country Championships with a team of seven men.
Leading the charge to victory for the Hornets was LSC's 38-year-old clutch runner Mike Bruhn. The plucky Hornet harrier went out with the lead pack, ran tough up in the hills where the trails twisted and turned like a maze as the runners winded their way up and down the steep hillside. By the halfway mark, Bruhn had fought his way into third place where he finished the race at a personal best time of 26:17.
Early in the race, the rest of the Hornets were not in the position they needed to be in to win the crown, but Sean Fisher moved up into eighth (27:25), Randy Feeley rose to the occasion with a personal best time of 27:36, Chris Spears landed 11th place with a time of 27:40 and another personal best time of 27:58 put LSC's Nick Savoie into 14th place to clinch the title for the Hornets.
quot;This didn't happen overnight. This was a four-year building process for the men's team to achieve this,quot; LSC X-C coach Chris Ummer said of the Hornets victory. quot;The men's team started out the season three years ago with no returnees; we started from scratch and in four years we've made it to the nationals. I think it was an emotional win. It meant an awful lot to our seniors Mike, Sean and Chris.quot;
To notch their stunning victory, four-out-of-five of the Hornets ran personal bests on a difficult, hilly course. The Hornet men also ran two-and-a-half minutes faster in Saturday's race as they did on the same course in the State Meet.
Celebratory whoops of joy, hugs from teammates, parents and girlfriends surrounded the victorious Hornets after Coach Ummer broke the news to them in a huddle that they had just won the championships.
quot;I'm going to be the first one in my family to run at the nationals!quot; said Jon Dodge, a sophomore from Littleton, N.H..
The LSC X-C country mentor shared in his teams' excitement. quot;This is the biggest win ever in Lyndon State College cross country history, I think,quot; said Ummer with a smile.
On the women's side, Liz Chase qualified to compete in the NAIA National X-C Championship Meet with a run into fifth place as Lyndon State took third in the womens meet. quot;The womens' team, as a whole, ran their best race of the whole year,quot; said Ummer.
The Lyndon State College Mens' cross country team and Chase will travel out to Kenosha, Wis. to race in the NAIA National Championship Meet on Nov. 21.
Mens Team Scores
1. Lyndon 35; 2. Houghton 47; 3. Robert Wesleyan 59; 4. Johnson State College 116; 5. Nyack 120; 6. UNE 158; 7. Maine Maritime 202; 8. University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, 209; 9. University of Maine, Farmington 234; INCOMPLETE - Castleton, Presque Isle, St. Joe's, St. Thomas Aquinas.
Local Mens Finishers
3. Mike Bruhn (LSC) 26:17; 8. Sean Fisher (LSC) 27:25; 9. Randy Feeley (LSC) 27:36; 11. Chris Spears (LSC) 27:40; 14. Nick Savoie (LSC) 27:58.
Womens Team Scores 1.UNE 46; 2. Georgian Court 63; 3. Lyndon 84; 4. University Of Maine Farmington 111; 5. University of Maine, Presque Isle, 123; 6. St. Joe's of Maine, 138; 7. Nyack 148; 8. Maine Maritime Academy, 222; INCOMPLETE - Johnson, Castleton, St. Thomas Aquinas.