WATERVILLE, Maine – Grandon Smith of the Castleton men's cross country team has been named North Atlantic Conference Runner of the Year for the second straight season, highlighting the Spartans' three All-NAC honorees, as announced Wednesday by the league office.
Smith was named NAC Runner of the Year and earned First Team All-NAC honors, while also being named to the 2017 NAC Sportsmanship Team. Freshman Gannon McKearin was named to the All-NAC First Team, while Jared Wheeler earned Second Team All-NAC honors.
Smith claimed the NAC Championship for the second straight season with a time of 26:24.9, pacing the field of 85 runners to the finish line 20 seconds faster than his nearest competitor. It was his fifth individual title in six meets this season as he helped lead the Spartans to a second-place finish as a team. The senior took first place in back-to-back meets at Southern Vermont and Castleton, before taking ninth out of 315 runners across Divisions I, II, and III at the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational. He followed that up with a first-place finish at the Vermont State Meet, crossing the line 16 seconds faster than anyone else in the meet, which included 11 runners from nationally-ranked Middlebury. Smith was also named to the Sportsmanship Team, which is reserved for those who have distinguished themselves through demonstrated acts of sportsmanship and ethical behavior. The honorees are individuals who have positively affected the sport culture and environment and whose behavior clearly demonstrates sportsmanship and integrity.
McKearin has had an impressive freshman campaign for Castleton, finishing second on the squad in every race this season. He posted his best 8K time of the season at the NAC Championship (27:09.3) to place fourth overall and garner First Team All-NAC recognition. He has three top-five finishes on the season, including a second-place finish at the Southern Vermont Invitational and a fourth-place finish at the Castleton Invitational.
Wheeler has had another strong season for Castleton as he has placed third on the team in all six races this season. The sophomore placed 14th at the NAC Championship with a time of 29:16.6 to garner Second Team All-NAC honors. His best 8K mark of the season came at the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational when he crossed the line in 28:22. Wheeler has five top 20 finishes this season, highlighted by a fifth-place finish at the Southern Vermont Invitational.
The Spartan trio has helped lead Castleton to five top-five finishes as a team this season, highlighted by a second-place finish at the NAC Championship, its highest finish since 2007. To view the full All-NAC release, click here.
Castleton returns to action on Saturday, Nov. 11, for the Division III New England Regionals at Southern Maine.