Men's Cross Country Set For NAC Championship

Men's Cross Country Set For NAC Championship

CASTLETON, Vt. – Following a one-week break from action, the Castleton men's cross country team is set to return to the course on Saturday at 11 a.m. to compete in the eight-kilometer North Atlantic Conference Championship at Mount Blue High School hosted by UMaine-Farmington.

The Spartans are coming off a strong fifth-place finish at the Western New England Invitational Saturday, Oct. 14. Grandon Smith paced the field of 106 runners to the finish line with a time of 25:52, 36 seconds faster than the runner-up competitor.  Gannon McKearin clocked in at 27:32 to place fifth overall, while Jared Wheeler came in 16th with a time of 28:25. Oliver Rodgers and Carter Kline rounded out the Spartan top five with respective times of 31:20 and 32:46.

Smith is seeking his second straight NAC individual title after taking the top spot in last year's conference championship with a time of 26:22 on his way to NAC Runner of the Year accolades. Wheeler also returns after placing 27th overall in the championship last season, while McKearin will have his first shot at the conference championship after placing second on the squad in every race thus far this season. 

The Spartans placed third overall in the championship last season, and have been tabbed to finish in the same spot in the 2017 NAC Pre-Championship Poll, which was announced Friday morning by the league office. Colby-Sawyer was the favorite in the poll conducted by the league's head coaches, earning 116 points with six first-place votes. UMaine-Farmington was selected second with 108 points and four first-place tallies. The Spartans were third after receiving the final first-place vote en route to 98 total points, while Maine Maritime (91) and Thomas (70) rounded out the top five, respectively. 100 runners from 11 conference teams are set to compete in this year's championship race. To view the full NAC Pre-Championship Poll and meet preview, click here.

Saturday's race will serve as a final tune-up before the NCAA Division III New England Regional Championships hosted by the University of Southern Maine at Gorham Country Club (Gorham, Maine) on Saturday, Nov. 11.