North Central College (Ill.) produced four of the top 11 runners, including individual champion Dhruvil Patel and runner-up Al Baldonado, as the Cardinals cruised to their third straight and record 19th overall team title at the NCAA Division III Men’s Cross Country Championship held Saturday (Nov. 17) at the Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne.
North Central College, which led the team standings at each split, scored 43 points to easily outpace second-place Washington University in St. Louis’ (Mo.) total of 110. The Cardinals entered the championship ranked first in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll while the runner-up Bears, who earned their highest team finish in program history, went into the race ranked second.
Patel led the way for North Central College, winning the individual title with a time of 24:24.5 to clip teammate Baldonado, who finished second in 24:29.7. Chris Buechner placed eighth for the Cardinals in 24:41.2 while Matt Osmulski was 11th in 24:44.5 and Zach Hird 33rd in 24:55.5.
Patel became the eighth individual champion from North Central College. No other program has had more than three individual winners.
North Central College, which has also finished second 14 times in the 46-year history of the Division III Championship, secured its prior national championships in 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017. No NCAA program in any division has won more men’s cross country titles than the Cardinals.
Joining North Central College and Washington University on the team podium were third-place University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with 120 points and fourth-place Haverford College (Pa.) with 213. Washington University’s best previous showing at the Division III Championship was a third-place effort in 2011. Three-time national champion UW-La Crosse placed second at last year’s championship. Haverford College was the 2010 national champion.
Completing the top 10 teams were fifth-place Wartburg College (Iowa) with 227 points, sixth-place Amherst College (Mass.) with 253, seventh-place Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (Calif.) with 298, eighth-place Williams College (Mass.) with 300, ninth-place Johns Hopkins University (Md.) with 308 and 10th-place State University of New York at Geneseo with 329.
Following Patel and Baldonado in the individual competition were Pomona-Pitzer College’s Andy Reischling in third place with a time of 24:32.9, Josh Schraeder from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in fourth at 24:34.2, Ian McVey from Ohio Northern University in fifth at 24:37.1, Williams College’s Ryan Cox in sixth at 24:37.2, Washington University’s Brad Hodkinson in seventh at 24:39.1, Buechner in eighth, Zach Lee from University of Wisconsin-Platteville in ninth at 24:42.4 and Washington University’s Nick Matteucci in the 10th at 24:43.9.
Hodkinson held a lead of less than one second over Patel with 900 meters remaining.
The top 40 individual finishers secured All-America accolades.
The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh hosted the championship for the fourth time. The school also hosted the event in 1999, 2011 and 2015.
Photo courtesy of Larry Radloff, D3photography.com