The Southwestern men's cross country team finished off its season Saturday, Nov. 10, at the NJCAA National Championships in Garden City, Kansas. It was a cool and blustery western Kansas kind of day. The men finished in 24th place and were led by a 104th-place finish by freshman Cedrick Watson.
Head Cross Country and Track and Field Coach Trey Bruton had this to say about the meet: "The conditions out there were a big test for everyone's mental toughness and didn't set anyone up for a fast time. It had to be one of, if not the slowest, courses in NJCAA championship history."
Bruton continued on by saying, "There was never a break. You were fighting wind for a good portion and when you weren't fighting the wind you were fighting the hills. It was just one brutal course."
The Spartan squad did show its toughness and determination by snatching the No. 24 spot when the results were tallied. That is four places higher than a year ago and the highest team finish in nine years since a 22nd-place finish at the 2009 NJCAA Championships. It is also the fourth highest finish ever by a Southwestern team.
"Honestly when the results came through, I was a little shocked," said Bruton. "I knew we were packed together pretty tight, which helps your team score some in a race like this, but I thought we were just too far back in the pack to finish where we did. Our goal going in was to at least finish where we were ranked (NJCAA No. 25); finishing in the top 25 and moving up one spot was a great accomplishment for us."
Coach Bruton summarized the meet and season by saying, "We learned a lot this season and have worked hard to continue building a tradition of success here. Our kids are some of the best to work with and we are extremely proud of them. The future is bright for us; we return four of our top five runners for next year's team, we have other runners stepping up all the time and will have some talented recruits that will make us even better. We look forward to next August and continuing to move toward the top of the country."