The men’s cross country team won its second consecutive NAIA national title Saturday.
Junior Peter Koskey led the Stars with a third-place individual finish in the 8,000-meter race. Koskey paced five OCU runners who took all-American honors with top-30 finishes.
OCU turned in a meet-best 55 points, while Southern Oregon University had a runner-up showing to repeat last year’s two top teams in the national meet. OCU lived up to its season-long billing atop the NAIA rankings as the Stars have owned the No. 1 spot for 10 consecutive weeks since the 2013 postseason ratings.
The Stars have 57 national championships in all sports. The Stars took five national titles in 2013-14 in men’s cross country, women’s basketball, cheerleading, women’s golf and Pom.
“We are super excited to defend the national title,” said Coach Conor Holt, who was NAIA coach of the year for the second year in a row. “The men ran with heart and pride and got the job done for OCU.”
Koskey, junior Arya Bahreini and sophomore Mackenzie Wahpehpah-Harris became two-time all-Americans. Koskey recorded a time of 24 minutes, 44.20 seconds to be 7.8 seconds off the pace set by Wayland Baptist University’s Benard Keter.
Freshman Csaba Matko came in fifth place at 24:54.30, while Bahreini completed the race in 25:19.10, good for 13th.
Sophomore David Mountford clocked a 25:24.90 to take 18th, and Wahpehpah-Harris posted a 25:29.30 for a 21st-place showing.
“It’s a great achievement to have five guys make all-American,” Holt said. “They listened to the race plan really well and executed it to a tee in the second half of the race. That was the difference – patience, pride and the silver singlet.”
Senior Kyle Wardwell had a time of 25:47.10, good for 43rd, and freshman Michael Vercoe-Curtis finished in 26:17.70, which was 82nd.
The competitors faced 55-degree temperatures with 16-mph winds and gusts up to 25 mph under overcast skies.
“We had great weather and great cross country conditions,” Holt said.
Along with OCU’s program-best 15th-place finish in the women’s race, the Stars finished third place in the combined standings.