VANCOUVER, Wash. — Oregon Tech turned in a pair of No. 15 finishes Friday at the NAIA national cross-country championships at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
In both instances, OIT finished behind The College of Idaho and Southern Oregon from the Cascade Collegiate Conference, but the men did move ahead of Eastern Oregon, which had finished ahead of the Hustlin’ Owls in the men’s conference championships.
“The men raced a good race, placing higher than they were rated,” Tech coach Jack Kegg said.
For the OIT men, junior Mark French placed 23rd overall Friday and covered the 8,000-meter course in 25 minutes, 20.4 seconds.
That effort allowed French, who missed last season because of an injury, to capture All-American honors for the third time in his cross-country career.
“Mark becoming a three time All-American was a special moment,” Kegg said. “He was 34th with a mile to go and closed strong enough to be an All-American, again.”
Mark Shaw of Oklahoma City won the men’s race in 24:39.5, with Alex Martin of CI the highest conference runner and was third in 25:53.4. Cole Olsen of LCSC was fourth and Eastern Oregon’s Alex Navarro eighth.
All five OIT runners to score in the national meet place in the top 135 in a men’s race which saw 335 entries complete the course.
In the men’s race, which was won by Oklahoma City University, Lewis-Clark State, which will join the Cascade Collegiate Conference next season, was third, CI fifth and Southern Oregon 12th. Northwest University was 32nd out of 37 teams.
Tech’s women, dominated by freshmen, bettered the effort of the last year’s national championship team when its seniors also were freshmen. The title team had placed 19th when it was comprised mostly of freshmen.
OIT’s average time was about 30 seconds per runner shy of giving the school a top-10 finish. Still, the Hustlin’ Owls were the third team from the league in the standings, with Cascade Collegiate Conference champion The College of Idaho second Friday, with Southern Oregon ninth.
Eastern Oregon finished at No. 29. Warner Pacific, as the host school, was No. 35 out of the 37complete teams in the women’s race.
“The young women’s team ran a strong race, also placing higher than they were rated,” Kegg said of the Hustlin’ Owls. “Our mid-pack runners (Hannah Mason, Mallory Ward and Mia Smith) performed especially well, racing close together and working together.”
Individually, Delani Dietrich, as she has all season, led the OIT women and placed 53rd. She covered the women’s 5K course in 19 minutes, two seconds in a race won by Hannah Stoffel of Huntington of Indiana in 17:18.4.
All five runners who scored for Tech finished in the top 150 of a race in which 340 women completed the course.
The best individual finish from the conference was Amelia Pullen of Warner Pacific, who came in at No. 10 in 18:19.9.
Madonna of Michigan won the team title with 111 points, with CI second with 147.