EOU Ranks Fifth in Most Recent NAIA Men’s Cross Country Rankings

KANSAS CITY, Mo. –  Following an impressive first-place victory at the 48th Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational, the Eastern Oregon University Men’s Cross Country Team has ascended to the #5 position in the recent NAIA Men’s Cross Country Top 25 rankings.

The rankings, which are determined by a points system based on votes from a panel of head coaches representing NAIA’s conferences and unaffiliated groupings, saw Indiana Wesleyan retain its top position with 16 first-place votes. Eastern Oregon’s upward movement of three spots is testament to the team’s consistent performance this season, which began with a #2 ranking in the CCC Preseason Poll an original No. 9 ranking in the NAIA Coaches Preseason Poll.

Last Saturday’s competition was a historic moment for the team as they outpaced 24 other NAIA and NCAA institutions, with a total of 244 runners, to clinch their first victory at the Willamette Invitational. This marked a significant milestone as the team has participated in this event for 48 years.

Leading the charge for Eastern Oregon was Justin Ash, who placed 9th overall with a commendable time of 24:38 in the 8k. He was closely followed by Hunter Nichols and Cristian Mendoza, who finished 15th and 17th respectively. The collective performance of the team, including significant contributions from Thomas Ogden and Winston Telford, was crucial in securing the win.

“It is nice to see the guys continue to be rewarded for all their efforts,” said head coach Ben Welch. “After last week’s historic win in Salem, we expected to move up a spot or two, so #5 is a pleasant spot to land this week. To be top five is no easy task especially as it means we are thriving in the deepest conference in the NAIA for men’s Cross Country.”

In addition to this recognition, the team was also honored as the Co-Under Armour Team of the Week for the period of Sept. 25 – Oct. 1, as announced by the Cascade Collegiate Conference.

The women’s team was also recognized by the NAIA, receiving 123 votes and just falling outside the Top 25. “So close to the coveted top 25!” said Welch. “After a weekend that saw seven of the nine ladies run lifetime bests, we knew it would be close. That’s ok, they continue to be motivated and focused and they are training very well, so hopefully being just outside the top 25 will add even more fuel to their fire.”

The Eastern Oregon University Men’s Cross Country Team looks forward to continuing their momentum and will compete next on October 14th in Estacada, Oregon, at Lewis and Clark College.

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