Eastern Michigan University’s men’s cross country team made Eagle history Saturday, winning its fifth consecutive Mid-American Conference Championship title.
This has only been accomplished one other time in EMU history.
Coach John Goodridge – in his 14th year as head coach – picked up his ninth conference championship, tying the MAC Championship coach record with former EMU coach Bob Parks.
“I am so proud and appreciative of this effort by our Ypsi boys,” Goodridge said. “We’ve been waiting all season to put our top five on the starting line and they came through with a wonderful team effort. I am also very appreciative of the tremendous team support we received on the course in numbers and enthusiasm.”
The Eagles finished with 23 points to claim their 19th MAC Championship. The Green and White’s closest competitor – the University of Akron, earned 49 points. To top off EMU’s stellar performance overall, junior Willy Fink was the first competitor to cross the line.
He became the 15th Eagle to earn a MAC individual championship.
The Eagles’ 23 points ties the MAC record set in 2006 for fewest points scored in a nine-team field. Every scoring runner for the Green and White earned All-MAC honors and every competing EMU harrier finished in the top-25 of the field.
Fink paced the team in 24:15, while teammate freshman Lahsene Bouchikhi came in runner-up at 24:20, gaining the edge on Miami’s Joseph Stewart at the finish line by one second. In a flurry of finishers coming in after Fink and Bouchikhi, freshman Hlynur Andrésson came up with a fifth-place finish in 24:23.
Veteran harriers sophomore Nick Raymond and senior Warren Witchell completed the Green and White strike with seventh- and eighth-place finishes, respectively. Raymond recorded a mark of 24:29 and Witchell crossed the line at 24:35.
Fink, Bouchikhi, Andrésson and Raymond all earned All-MAC First Team honors. Witchell was named to the All-MAC Second Team.
EMU saw two more contenders cross the line well ahead of the majority of the field.
Sophomore John Knox finished in 17th at an even 25:00 and freshman Mitch Lenneman came in 25th at 25:16. Rounding out the Eagles’ lineup were seniors Cameron Trinh and Steve Hammond.
The Eagles will have nearly two weeks to prepare for the NCAA Great Lakes Regional being held on Friday, Nov. 14 in Madison, Wis. on the Zimmer Championship Course. The 8,000-meter race will determine who will compete at the NCAA Championships.
The match is slated for a 1:15 p.m. start.